Fever

:: A fever is a temporary increase in your body temperature, often due to an illness.

Bonum / Conditions / Fever

Symptoms

Depending on what’s causing your fever, additional fever signs and symptoms may include:
  • Sweating
  • Chills and shivering
  • Headache
  • Muscle Aches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritability
  • Dehydration
  • General weakness
man-with-fever

Overview

You have a fever when your temperature rises above its normal range. What’s normal for you may be a little higher or lower than the average normal temperature of 98.6 F (37 C).

Having a fever is a sign that something out of the ordinary is going on in your body. For an adult, a fever may be uncomfortable, but usually isn’t a cause for concern unless it reaches 103 F (39.4 C) or higher. For infants and toddlers, a slightly elevated temperature may indicate a serious infection. Fevers generally go away within a few days. A number of over-the-counter medications lower a fever, but sometimes it’s better left untreated. Fever seems to play a key role in helping your body fight off a number of infections.

Taking a temperature

To check your or your child’s temperature, you can choose from several types of thermometers, including oral, rectal, ear (tympanic) and forehead (temporal artery) thermometers.

Although it’s not the most accurate way to take a temperature, you can use an oral thermometer for an armpit (axillary) reading:

  1. Place the thermometer in the armpit and cross your arms or your child’s arms over the chest.
  2. Wait four to five minutes. The axillary temperature is slightly lower than an oral temperature.
  3. If you call your doctor, report the actual number on the thermometer and where on the body you took the temperature.

Use a rectal thermometer for infants:

  1. Place a dab of petroleum jelly on the bulb.
  2. Lay your baby on his or her tummy.
  3. Carefully insert the bulb 1/2 to 1 inch (1.3 to 2.5 centimeters) into your baby’s rectum.
  4. Hold the bulb and your baby still for three minutes.
  5. Don’t let go of the thermometer while it’s inside your baby. If your baby squirms, the thermometer could go deeper and cause an injury.

Prevention

You may be able to prevent fevers by reducing exposure to infectious diseases. Here are some tips that can help:

  • Wash your hands often and teach your children to do the same, especially before eating, after using the toilet, after spending time in a crowd or around someone who’s sick, after petting animals, and during travel on public transportation.
  • Show your children how to wash their hands thoroughly, covering both the front and back of each hand with soap and rinsing completely under running water.
  • Carry hand sanitizer with you for times when you don’t have access to soap and water.
  • Try to avoid touching your nose, mouth or eyes, as these are the main ways that viruses and bacteria can enter your body and cause infection.
  • Cover your mouth when you cough and your nose when you sneeze, and teach your children to do likewise. Whenever possible, turn away from others when coughing or sneezing to avoid passing germs along to them.
  • Avoid sharing cups, water bottles and utensils with your child or children.

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