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A fever is defined as a temperature 1° or more above the normal 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (F) or 37 degrees Celsius (C). Mild or short-term elevations in body temperature are common with minor infections.

High fevers, with temperatures of 103° and above, can signal a potentially dangerous infection. Contact your doctor in case of a high fever or if a lower fever doesn’t resolve with simple treatments.

Fever is a symptom of a disease or infection. It is not a disease. Fever helps the body fight infections by making the body’s defense systems work more efficiently. Bacteria and viruses cannot live at higher temperatures and are killed by fever. If your child has a fever he will look hot and flushed, though may complain of feeling cold and be shivering.

Can you have the flu without a fever?

Yes! A fever is a common symptom of the flu, but not all individuals with the flu will develop a fever. The flu is serious and even if you don’t have a fever your symptoms an get worst and can pass the virus to others.

Symptoms

There are different symptoms of a fever. The symptoms of a fever depends on what is causing it. Sometimes a fever can cause a chill. A chill occurs because when the brain raises the body’s “thermostat,” the body responds by shivering to raise the temperature. Shivering produces heat in the body. Once the temperature goes up, the person often feels warm. When the fever goes away, the person may start to sweat.

Causes

Fever can be caused by many conditions. Some conditions that cause them are: infections such as strep throat, pneumonia, flu and chickenpox, tissue injuries, silicosis, food poisoning, tumors or cancer diseases that cause inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis, medications, and being in a hot environment for too long.

Risks during a fever

The main risk of mild or moderate fever (less than 102) is dehydration. If an adult has a fever more than 102, you should definitely call a doctor. The higher the fever, the more dangerous it is. If a child has a fever more than 101, you should immediately call a doctor. Fevers are most dangerous in babies. Always consult a doctor when a baby has a fever of any temperature.

A fever greater than 106 degrees Fahrenheit is a medical emergency and can result in brain damage and possibly death. Fevers greater than 106 degrees are very unusual.

Why drink plenty of fluids

It is important to drink fluids when you have a fever. It is important because fever causes considerable fluid loss through the skin and perspiration. Because it is difficult to measure fluid loss, it is good to drink 1 to 2 quarts of extra fluid each day that you have a fever.

How are fevers diagnosed?

A thermometer is used to measure the body temperature. The temperature can be taken in the mouth, rectum, ear, or under the arm.

Treatment options

Treatment is usually directed at whatever is causing the fever. Some steps that can help bring down a fever or comfort a person include the following: Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help reduce a fever. Fevers greater than 106 degrees F are very serious. These high fevers need to be treated in the hospital. If you believe you may have a fever, please consult your doctor.

Can fevers be prevented?

Generally no.

Fever seizures

A child with a high fever may have a febrile seizure. Symptoms of a seizure include shaking or jerking of the arms and legs, a fixed stare or the eyes rolling back, drooling, heavy breathing, and the skin turning blue. If your child has a febrile seizure, contact your doctor immediately.

The majority of children with febrile seizures have rectal temperatures greater than 102 degrees F. Most febrile seizures occur during the first day of a child’s fever. Children prone to febrile seizures are not considered to have epilepsy, since epilepsy is characterized by recurrent seizures that are not triggered by fever.