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Fever is one of the most common yet the most vexing health condition which affects even the healthiest of individuals at least once in a year.
In most cases, fevers are benign and can be treated with proper rest, adequate fluid intake, and the administration of antipyretic medications. But, fevers can be perilous at times especially in children or in individuals with a weaker immune system.
Let's have a look at the causes, types, treatment, and prevention of fever.
Definition of fever
The normal temperature of the human body is 37 degrees Celsius or 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Any elevation in the body temperature above the norm is termed as fever.
Fever, in itself, is not a disease. Rather, it is the reaction of the human body's immune system to a disease or a foreign organism. The increased temperature aids in getting rid of the pathogen and reinstating the healthy state of the body.
Common causes of fever
1. Pathogenic organisms
When pathogens such as certain bacteria, protozoa and virus enter the human body, they trigger a reactionary response leading to fever. The common types of fever caused by these organisms are rheumatic fever, malaria, typhoid, pneumonia, chikungunya, dengue. etc. These kind of fevers can be lethal and require immediate medical attention.
2. Environmental factors
In tropical countries like India, heat strokes are quite common. Our bodies get overheated, and the body temperature can rise up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. This might result in shivering & can become life threatening, as a result demanding appropriate & immediate treatment.
3. Rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease which affects the bones and joints. People suffering from rheumatoid arthritis experience low grade fever along with pain and swelling. In such cases, the fever subsides when the underlying disease is taken care of.
Certain vaccines like Polio, Chicken Pox, etc. can cause an elevation in the body temperature in children. Generally, the fever is low grade and lasts for 1-2 days. However, if your child experiences high temperature, say, around 102-104 degrees Fahrenheit, immediately consult a pediatrician.
Are all fevers lethal?
Generally, not. If you are healthy with a strong immune system, seasonal flu and common cold should not be of much concern. Most fevers usually subside by themselves. Medications may help allay the escorting symptoms like headache, body ache, and restlessness.
However, fevers caused by pathogens like Typhoid Fever, Malaria, etc. do require to be taken care of with swift and adequate medical measures. Also, fevers can be quite dangerous in babies, children, and the elderly. So, consulting a qualified medical professional is the best recourse in such cases.
Symptoms of fever
- An elevation in the body or the rectal temperature
- Headache & body ache
- Feeling of lethargy
- Loss of appetite
- Profuse sweating (when the fever subsides)
- Usage of mosquito nets and mosquito-repellent creams can help prevent mosquito-borne fevers like malaria, dengue, chikungunya, and Zika fever.
- Make sure to follow proper hygiene measures like washing your hands with a medicated soap or hand wash before and after a meal, using separate towels at home, covering your mouth and nose while sneezing or coughing, etc. Also, teach your kids to follow the same.
- If a family member contracts fever, take proper measures like segregating their articles so as the prevent the transmission of the infection to the other inhabitants of the house.
Usually, all fevers can be treated with proper medical care and attention. Though, fevers mostly require adequate rest and oral medications to recede, it is always a good idea to consult a doctor if you encounter a fever.
A doctor would be swift and veracious in diagnosing the cause of the fever, in some cases, with a simple blood exam, if your fever lasts for more than 5 days. He would also help in allaying pesky symptoms, like aches and lethargy as soon as possible.
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