Fever is when the body’s normal temperature, which is around 98.6°F or 37°C, elevates rapidly. It’s also known as hyperthermia or pyrexia. Fever can affect everyone at every age. A fever happens when your brain shifts the body’s temperature higher to fight off an illness. This usually results in chills in an attempt to raise your body’s temperature. A prolonged or severe fever, resulting in sweating and chills, can be serious and may require medical attention.
Fever itself isn’t a sickness, it’s a symptom of an illness or infection. The brain resets the hypothalamus — the part of the brain that controls body temperature — to a higher-than-normal temperature to try and heal the body. The more serious the illness or infection, the longer the fever will last. Having too high a body temperature for an extended period of time is dangerous.
Causes of a fever include:
- Conditions causing inflammation
- The flu, common cold or pneumonia
- Side effects of drugs like antibiotics
- Infection of the ears, throat, lungs, skin, bladder or kidneys
- Blood clots
- Autoimmune diseases like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease
- Hormone disorders like hyperthyroidism
- Illicit drugs
- Food poisoning
- Extreme sunburn
Symptoms vary depending on what caused the fever. Here are a few common ones:
- A body temperature above 100.4 degrees
- Aches in the joints
- Muscles aches
- Loss of appetite
- Weakness of the body
Treating a fever at home that’s not too severe is as easy as taking fever reducers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, keeping the room temperature comfortable, drinking plenty of fluids, rest and treating the symptoms of whatever minor illness or infection is causing the fever.
Should I go to Indigo?
MultiCare Indigo Urgent Care is a great place to go if you have a typical fever that goes along with the flu or other minor illness or infection.
If you have any of the following symptoms, it’s probably best for you to get treatment at your nearest emergency department:
- You have a body temperature exceeding 103°F, or 39.4°C
- You have a serious medical illness or a weakened immune system
- You have recently returned from a developing country
- You suffer from a severe headache
- You have a swollen throat
- You have a skin rash that’s growing worse
- You have sensitivity to bright light
- You have a stiff neck and neck pain
- You are constantly vomiting
- You are listless or irritable
- You have abdominal pain
- You suffer from muscle weakness
- You have confusion or an inability to walk
- You have trouble breathing
- You have chest pain
- You have seizures
- You suffer from hallucinations