How to care for a fever and know when to seek medical treatment
While fevers aren’t strictly for flu season, they are definitely a common side effect. Velocity Care has the information that you need to properly identify and treat a fever and also to know when you should visit a health care professional. We are here to help when someone you love has a temperature spike.
What is a fever?
A fever, also known as pyrexia, is an abnormally high body temperature. It occurs when there is an infection in the body. As a response to this threat, the hypothalamus (the body’s internal thermostat located in the brain) raises the body temperature in an attempt to help fight off the infection.
What are the symptoms of a fever?
The most obvious symptom of a fever is a higher than normal body temperature. A thermometer reading of 98.6 F is considered normal and a reading of 100.4 F and higher is considered to be a significant fever. A patient with a fever will be warm to the touch and may also experience chills or a shivering sensation, body aches and pains, headache, earache, sore throat or tiredness. Babies or young children may also cry or show signs of fussiness and may be inconsolable.
How do you check for a fever?
If you suspect that someone is suffering from a fever, the best way to check is to use a thermometer. Digital thermometers are considered the easiest to use and generally provide the most accurate results. They can be used three different ways:
- Axillary (in the armpit).
Some thermometers can be used in the ear as well and can provide fairly accurate readings in older children and adults, but are not recommended for babies. Readings may also be inaccurate if the patient has a buildup of wax in his or her ears.
How to treat a fever
As with most common illnesses, the best way to quickly recover from a fever is to get ample rest and drink plenty of fluids. Cool compresses to the forehead or sponging the body with tepid water can help to alleviate some of the symptoms of a fever and so can dressing in light, airy clothing.
There are many medications that can help to reduce the effects of a fever as well. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are both excellent choices and will not only bring down the body temperature to a normal level, but will also assist in decreasing other symptoms, like aches and pains. Aspirin (or ASA) is another option, but should only be used in adults over the age of 18. Use of this medication in children or young adults can be very dangerous and could lead to Reye’s syndrome.
Before taking any medication, you should consult with your doctor and discuss which options are best for you.
When to see a doctor
Many fevers can be treated at home and with proper care, can be left to run their course. There are some circumstances, however, where it is important to seek immediate medical attention at your nearest urgent care clinic:
- A child under three months with a fever of 100.4 F or higher.
- A child three months or over with a fever of 102 F or higher.
- An adult or a child with a fever that has lasted longer than two days and is not responding well to medication.
- An adult or child with a fever, who is unusually lethargic, feels extremely unwell or has a stiff neck.
- A fever in someone with a compromised immune system (e.g., a cancer or AIDS patient).
- A patient who is convulsing or experiencing seizures.
Although a mild or moderate fever should generally not be an issue, it is important to seek medical attention in any of the above circumstances or if you are concerned at any time.
Velocity Care’s team of health care professionals is here to help. If you or your loved ones are sick and in need of medical attention, visit www.velocitycare.com/locations to find an urgent care clinic near you.
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