fever head pic

Flu

The classic kid trick of putting a thermometer on a light bulb to fake a fever or if you were really desperate rubbing your tongue over it super fast in hopes to up it that one degree. All done in hopes of a day at home under the duvet rather than having to tackle Mrs. Simmon’s killer algebra questions.

But we no longer need to trick our Mum’s into letting us skip the maths test and you may just see a fever as a pain that’s getting in the way of your everyday life. However, they are also an important message from your body and one that you should listen to. Fevers tell you that your body is trying to fight off an infection and they play an important role in that fight. Read on to learn what your fever is saying to you, what they are doing and how you should treat them.

+   Symptoms

A fever is anything that is over your normal body temperature

  • Over 37.5°C is considered a fever
  • Over 39.4°C is high and potentially dangerous fever (which you should immediately seek treatment)
  • You may get chills and shivering at the start of the fever
  • Sweating
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of Appetite
  • General weakness

If you have any of the following symptoms go to an A and E ASAP:

  • A fever for over 3 days
  • Hallucinations
  • Mental confusion
  • Seizures (if someone seizes for more than 5 mins call 999 and ask for an ambulance)
  • Sensitivity to light or loud sounds
  • Rash
  • Stiff neck
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Severe headache
  • Abdominal or chest pain
fever temperature

+   Causes

A fever is very common when your body is fighting off an infection and it is an important part of your body’s defense. Some of your body’s white blood cells (the ones in charge of getting rid of the infection) release chemicals called pyrogens into your bloodstream when they come in contact with the bad guys in your system. These pyrogens then travel to your hypothalamus, the part of your brain that regulates your body’s temperature. The hypothalamus usually works hard to keep your body at a normal, healthy temperature by making you sweat or shiver but when it is flooded by pyrogens it raises the body temperature out of the normal range. The smart guys who research this stuff at universities think it does this as most of the bacteria and viruses that cause us to get sick thrive at normal body temperatures. By raising your temperature, a fever makes your body less hospital to these bad guys and therefore helps to fight off the infection.

Some immunizations or medicines may have the same effect as an infection and cause a fever. You may also get a fever if you have bad sunburn or heat exhaustion.

white cell fever

+   Treatment

The jury is out a little on whether or not you should let a low grade fever (one under 39.4°C) just run its course. As we saw above, a fever can be an important part of the process when your body is fighting an infection. By lowering the fever you may just be masking the symptoms and slowing down recovery. However, fevers can be uncomfortable and high fever can potentially cause damage to your brain. If your fever is on the higher side you should talk to your doc for advice.

Over the Counter

If you chose to treat your fever it can be lowered with simple over the counter medicine that you can get at the supermarket or the pharmacy. Most will take 30 mins to kick in and then last roughly for 4-6 hours:

  • Aspirin
    • Do not give to children as in rare cases aspirin can trigger Reye’s Syndrome which is potentially fatal
  • Paracetemol
    • Follow the instructions for dosage
    • It should be taken every 4 hours and no more than 8 pills should be taken in a 24 hour period
    • Over using paracetemol can cause kidney and liver damage
  • Ibuprofen
    • Follow the instructions for dosage
    • It should be taken every 4 hours and no more than 8 pills should be taken in a 24 hour period
    • Over using ibuprofen can cause kidney and liver damage
Home Treatment

Whether you chose to let the fever run its course or to treat it make sure you follow the below suggestions. They will get you on the road to a speedy recovery.

  • Stay Hydrated
    • Keep drinking fluids
    • Try to get salts as well as water, this can be easily achieved with a sports drink
    • Avoid drinking caffeine and alcohol until you are better
  • Rest
    • Take the excuse to put your feet up and catch up on some Downtown Abbey
  • Keep cool
    • Even if you have chills or shivers don’t let yourself overheat
    • Keep a window open or a fan on to get some fresh air however do not direct the fan at the hot individual just in the vicinity to circulate air.
    • Use just one blanket
keep cool

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