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Fever

Fever

 

Normal body temperature is approximately 37oC. A fever is simply an increase in body temperature.  Fever is a sign that your body is fighting an infection; therefore it is a symptom of an underlying condition, rather than a disease itself. The rise in body temperature is beneficial as a warmer environment is less favourable for bacteria and viruses. It also stimulates the immune system and helps to fight the pathogens.

 

 

Causes
Fevers are commonly caused by one of the following:

  • bacteria (such as pneumonia or urinary tract infections),
  • viruses (such as the common cold or upper respiratory tract infections),
  • chronic conditions such as ulcerative colitis or rheumatoid arthritis,
  • surgery, or
  • major trauma.

 

 

Symptoms
A fever is classified as ‘mild’ if up to 38.5oC, and ‘high’ if above 38.5oC. The elderly tend to experience a smaller rise in temperatures compared to younger people, however a smaller rise may still be an indication of an underlying condition.

 

Common symptoms of fever include:

  • increased perspiration,
  • feeling unwell,
  • shivering or shaking,
  • a flushed face, and/or
  • dehydration.

 

 

Diagnosis
To confirm the presence of a fever, body temperature is usually measured using a thermometer. The thermometer can be placed in the mouth, armpit or inside the ear. As a fever is a symptom of an underlying condition your doctor will enquire about your medical history and perform a physical examination. Your doctor may also undertake a range of tests such as blood tests, urine or faeces examination and/or taking mucus samples to help determine the cause of the fever.

 

 

Management
Treatment for a fever is dependent on the cause. There are also some simple ways to manage symptoms of a fever, including:

  • drinking clear fluids such as water or lemonade to aid rehydration,
  • changing clothing and bed linen if sweating,
  • keeping clothes and blankets to a minimum,
  • ventilating the room, and
  • ensure that you avoid hot water bottles or electric blankets which may further raise body temperature.

 

 

Disclaimer
The content displayed on this webpage is intended for informational purposes and is a guide only. It does not replace or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Information contained on this webpage must be discussed with an appropriate healthcare professional before making any decisions or taking any action based on the content of this webpage.

 

Sources

Better Health Channel
http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.Nsf/pages/Fever?open

ABC Health and Wellbeing
http://www.abc.net.au/health/library/stories/2011/08/17/3294499.htm

 

 

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