Must Know Facts about Fever

Fever is not a disease by itself. It is the body’s mechanism that suggests something wrong is happening to your body. It is simply the body’s immune reaction to infection or insult of any kind. The normal body temperature for an adult is about 98.6 0F, and body temperature higher than this is considered fever. Temperature between 98.7 0F and 100 0F is considered low grade fever. Fever might be due to variable causes that can be associated with bacterial, viral, fungal, tubercular, neoplastic, and connective tissue disorders. The average body temperature is the net result of balance between body’s heat generation and heat loss. This mechanism is maintained by the hypothalamus in the brain.

Some fevers resolve with symptomatic treatment with paracetamol or ibuprofen. However, some might need extensive investigations and aggressive treatment with hospital admissions. Treatment of fever is basically related to the treatment of the root cause of fever. Rampant use of medicines, including antibiotics, should be strictly discouraged. The medicines should only be started and taken after consultation with a doctor. Fever can be extremely dangerous if it gets associated with hemodynamic instability like decrease of blood pressure.
The medicines needed to treat the cause of fever might be different for different patients. My friend got relieved of fever with one medicine, and the same medicine will be equally effective to me too is just a myth. The selection of the appropriate medicines for the treatment of fever varies from patient to patient, and strictly depends on the cause of fever, patient’s body dynamics, physiology, and presence of other related co-morbidities. So, the selection of appropriate medicine to treat fever is extremely important, which should be done only by a registered medical practitioner.

Brain damage caused by fever is very rare. Fevers due to common infections or illness do not cause brain damage. However, encephalitis and meningitis are the conditions associated with fever that involves the brain and spinal cord. Mild physical activities and exercise are relatively safe during low grade fever. However, it is better to avoid strenuous physical activities and exercise. It’s better to take rest and avoid exercise if it is a high-grade fever.

That fever can only be treated by antibiotics is partially true, because antibiotics are only effective against fever associated with bacterial infections. Antibiotics have no role against fever associated with viral infections. Fever chart maintenance is also extremely important to know the pattern of fever, which usually guides to treat the cause.
• Hydration is very important during the febrile period. Drink plenty of fluids like water, broth, or electrolyte drinks in order to stay hydrated, to replenish body fluid loss due to fever, and to regulate body temperature.
• Cold sponging can be very fruitful to bring down the fever. Application of damp cloth to the forehead can help bring down the body temperature and provide some relief. However, cold shower or ice bath should not be taken, because they can cause the body to shiver and raise your body temperature instead.
• Overdressing or covering up with blankets should be avoided, as this can trap heat and make the fever worse. So, it’s better to wear lightweight, breathable clothing to help the body regulate its temperature.

A fever is considered dangerous if it is very high grade or prolonged. Fever of 103 0F or higher is considered high fever. It can be dangerous, especially in young children and the elderly, because it can lead to seizures, change in sensorium, multi organ dysfunction, and other severe complications. Prolonged fever is a fever that lasts for more than five days. It can be a sign of a more serious underlying condition, which is not responding to the treatment and needs further investigations.

Fever of unknown origin (FUO) refers to the condition in which a patient has fever with no causes found despite investigations done by the medical practitioner. This can be associated with disseminated granulomatoses like extra pulmonary tuberculosis, drug induced hyperthermia, lymphomas, thromboembolic diseases, endocarditis, bartonella infections, etc.

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