Fever - Adults
Fever is an abnormally high body temperature of over 37.8 C (100 F) orally or 38.2 C (100.8 F) rectally.
Average body temperature is around 37 degrees Celsius/98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Readings slightly outside this range are normal. During a 24-hour period a person's body temperature will naturally change. Low body temperature usually occurs in the early morning and increases during the day to reach a high point in the late afternoon. A Fever most commonly develops as a result of a bacterial or viral infection. Other causes of Fever or a raised temperature include exercising, wearing too many clothes, hot weather or having a hot bath.
WHAT IS HAPPENING?
Body temperature is controlled in a part of the human brain called the hypothalamus. This is the body's thermostat. When the immune system senses an infection or other trigger, it releases substances called pyrogens. The pyrogens act indirectly on the hypothalamus, causing it to raise the temperature of its thermostat. The body then reacts to conserve and produce heat, causing the temperature to rise. Blood vessels near the skin surface constrict and shivering begins, so as to prevent heat loss from the body.
When the invading disease or trigger has been controlled by the body or antibiotics, the temperature setting in the hypothalamus will drop to the normal level. The body then needs to cool itself to return to the new setting in the brain. The skin becomes flushed and warm, and the person begins to sweat.
BENEFITS AND RISKS
In some ways a Fever can be beneficial. Fever triggers the release of substances from cells in the body, which boost the activity of the immune system. A high body temperature may also help to prevent the growth of some types of bacteria. Fever increases the heart rate, which causes the cells involved with immunity (white blood cells) to act more effectively and be delivered more quickly to the sites of infection. Heat speeds up the rate of chemical reactions and a Fever may help body cells to repair more quickly during illness. However, Fever that is very rapid, high or prolonged and/or does not respond to treatment can result in dehydration (excess fluid loss from the body), excess acid build-up in the body and brain damage.
Always consult your Doctor for diagnosis and advice. In no way is this information intended to replace the advice of a registered medical practitioner.
• Paracetamol or ibuprofen can reduce Fever.
• It is important to drink plenty of fluids, as Fever can cause dehydration.
• Avoid trying to cool the skin with cold face washers etc, as this may cause shivering which can increase the body temperature.
• Fever caused by hot weather or physical exercise will not respond to paracetamol or ibuprofen. Instead, treatment involves cooling the person immediately by removing them from the hot environment, removing their clothes, using a wet sponge and a fan to cool the body. Seek emergency assistance if the person is confused or unconsciousness.
Seek medical assistance immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms with a Fever:
• A temperature of or greater than 104°F/40°C.
• Fever that lasts more than 7 days.
• If the symptoms get worse.
• Confusion or excessive sleepiness.
• Stiff neck.
• Severe headache.
• Sore throat.
• Chest pain.
• Trouble breathing.
• Repeated vomiting.
• Abdominal pain.
• Blood in the faeces.
• Pain with urination.
• Leg swelling.
• Red, hot, or swollen area of skin.
People with serious medical illnesses, such as cancer or HIV, may not show these warning signs and should seek medical assistance immediately if they develop a Fever.
• Drink plenty of fluids, as Fever can cause you to become dehydrated.
• Soups and fresh fruit and vegetable juices are highly nutritious and easy for the body to digest.
• Try to avoid drinking beverages containing caffeine e.g., coffee, tea and cola drinks, as this chemical can promote dehydration by increasing the volume of urine.
• Solid foods can be eaten in small amounts. Lightly cooked (steamed) vegetables and fruits are easy to digest and are healthy sources of vitamins and minerals.
• Avoid eating highly processed, fatty and sugary foods, as these are difficult to digest during Fever.
• Include plenty of fresh garlic, onions and ginger in the diet. These add a pleasant taste to food and valuable nutrients and promote sweating which helps to cool the body.
Ask your MedAux Pharmacist for advice.
1. Follow the Diet Hints.
2. Your Pharmacist can recommend the best way for you to monitor your temperature e.g. with a thermometer or temperature strip.
3. Certain pain-relieving drugs help to reduce Fever e.g. paracetamol or ibuprofen. Ask your Pharmacist for advice.
4. Try to avoid physical exertion and stress during a Fever, as these factors may aggravate the symptoms. Rest helps the body to heal more quickly.
5. Drink plenty of fresh, filtered water. A rise in body temperature increases the body's requirements for fluids. Try to avoid drinking beverages containing caffeine e.g., coffee, tea and cola drinks, as this chemical can promote dehydration by increasing the volume of urine.
6. If the diet is inadequate, consider some nutritional supplements. Vitamin C, garlic and Echinacea have properties, which help to boost the immune system and aid in the recovery process.