Fever is generally referred to as the increase in body temperature due to an illness. Notwithstanding, not every condition that involves a rise in body temperature can be termed fever. For instance, hypothermia also raises body temperature even to higher levels than a fever would.
Heat strokes, heat cramps, and heat exhaustion are all forms of hypothermia.
Fever, also referred to medically as pyrexia is a natural, protective, and adaptive mechanism the body employs in response to both infectious and non-infectious invasions. It is also said to be the body’s reactions to inflammations.
When the body’s immune system detects bacteria or viruses they produce cytokines(a group of secreted proteins and signal molecules such as interfluve). These special signals are sent to the temperature-regulating center of the brain, the anterior portion of the hypothalamus, to turn up the temperature i.e to raise the set-point.
Fever helps the body as it tries to fight pathogenic invasion (bacterial, viral, parasitic, etc) by increasing the body’s temperature. This high temperature would not be favorable for the microorganisms to thrive.
Also, fever increases the amount of antiviral interferon (a group of signal proteins) in the blood, which makes it difficult for viruses to replicate.
Classification Of Fever
There are different ways of classifying fever; based on the fluctuation in body temperature, body temperature range, and symptoms.
Based on temperature fluctuation
Using this classification we have majorly 3 different types of fever: intermittent, continuous, and remittent.
Based on Body Temperature
Using this classification we have majorly 3 different types of fever: low-grade fever, high-grade fever, and high fever.
- Low-grade fever: They are less severe fevers usually alongside temperature levels below 38°C(100.4°F). Since medications are taken to ease discomfort, it is advisable not to take medication as they’ll help lower the temperature.
- High-grade fever: They are more severe fevers usually accompanied by temperature levels between 39°C( 101°F)-40°C(104°F). It is usually advisable to take medications to relieve fever at this point especially when temperature levels rise to about 102°C. During high-grade fevers, one usually experiences headaches, eye pain, shivering, and other symptoms.
- High fever: This type of fever is very severe and can even cause death in children. The body temperature here rises above 104°F (between 40-41°C). It may result in hallucinations, convulsions, and rashes(usually in children).
The need for prompt medical attention at this point cannot be overemphasized, especially when handling individuals with low immunity.
Based On Symptoms
There are various symptoms associated with fever, they include;
- Aching muscles
- A general feeling of weakness
- Loss of appetite
- Flushed skin
- In severe cases may cause confusion, convulsions, vomiting, etc.
Symptoms may differ in different individuals and also, depending on age and the cause of the fever.
The increase in temperature associated with fever helps prevent the multiplication of the virus due to the unfavorable temperature. Lowering this temperature by taking medication may cause the fever to last longer and possibly mask the symptoms, even though the pathogens are still present.
However, it is best to seek medical attention from the onset of fever because the above reasons may not really be the best depending on age and some other factors.
It is also beneficial to note that the method and urgency in handling fever would be a bit different, depending on age, gender, prior medical conditions, etc. It is also beneficial to assess one’s temperature when symptoms begin.
3 Major Sites That Are Best For Temperature Evaluation
mouth, ear, and rectum are best for temperature evaluation. However, rectal temperature gives a better estimate of core temperature than that the others and is most suitable for babies and infants.
Babies and infants experiencing a fever should be given quick and adequate attention. For babies, high body temperatures of about 38°C(100.4°F) can be regarded as fever and medical attention should be given promptly.
For adults, fevers having a high temperature of about 38°C (104°F) are considered serious, and immediate medical attention should be given.
Generally, once the body temperature exceeds 38°C it is considered a fever. The fever of infants and children is usually more serious, more prolonged, and has greater temperature fluctuations than that of adults.
Should You Stay Warm When You Have A Fever?
Irrespective of whether the fever is continuous, Intermittent, remittent, low grade, high grade, or a high fever, it is advisable to keep the clothing light and the surroundings very cool and airy. Ensure you make use of light beddings and clothes when we have a fever.
This would help in cooling the body. Trying to stay warm or putting on thick clothing as a result of cold might cause more harm than good. Rather than having a hot or cold bath, a lukewarm shower would be more appropriate. Cold baths can make one shiver. This would be detrimental because shivering would cause the body temperature to go higher.
Ways To Stay Warm When You Have A Fever
However, there are other ways to stay comfortable during a fever, they include, administration of cool compresses to the neck and forehead. Also, one must stay hydrated; drink lots of fluids during this period, take enough rest, and get adequate sleep. This will go a long way in helping your body fight more.