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What Does a Fever Actually Mean?

Just about all of us has experienced an illness that is accompanied by a fever. We have also heard the saying “oh, you are burning up.” Our average, normal body temperature is 98.6° and when our bodies are battling any type of foreign entity (virus or bacteria) our core body temperature can elevate. Let us here at HPFY explain what a fever actually means and possibly dispel some myths you may have.

What Does a Fever Actually Mean?

The 411 on Fever

So, what exactly is a fever? Viruses, such as the flu, when they attack our body can cause a side effect known as a fever. Normally this is not life-threatening or even serious, but persistent fever can be an indication that something more serious is going on. This rise in body temperature is an indication that our immune system is battling some type of infection or illness. While this may seem pretty basic, there are some myths that could present some incorrect information and they can include:

  • Fevers Must Be Treated: Sometimes when our bodies are fighting a foreign pathogen (virus or bacteria) our body can release chemicals that elevate our body temperature. It is this rise in temperature that makes it difficult for viruses or bacteria to thrive. Get plenty of rest and fluids and you should be okay. Seek medical attention if the fever lasts for more than a few days.
  • Everybody’s Body Temperature Is 98.6°: As everybody is different from everybody else, body temperature can vary from person to person slightly. Also, time of day and age can also impact our body temperature.
  • Fever= Infection: Automatically we assume that if we have a fever there must be some type of infection. Other stimuli that can cause our body temperatures to rise can include allergies, cancer, dehydration, and even a hormonal imbalance can cause temperature to rise.
  • Every Thermometer Is Spot on: Believe it or not, not all thermometers are accurate. For the longest time mercury thermometers were the go to instrument for reading body temperature. Now digital, temporal artery, and digital ear thermometers are the preferred methods for recording body temperature.
  • High Fever Results in Brain Damage/Seizures: We often associate a high fever with a serious illness, but in actuality it is in important protective mechanism of our immune system. There is no threshold or certain degree that a high temperature can cause lasting damage to the brain.

Fever is a common sign of illness and not life-threatening. It actually plays a vital part in fighting off infections and illness. This is our immune system at work!!

 

How to Tackle a Fever?

The majority of the time dealing with a fever is not a matter of life or death. At the same time, it is a good idea to monitor and hopefully help your body lower your fever. Children in particular can be “cranky” due to a fever. Making them comfortable then becomes priority number one (possibly for your sanity)!! Some great ways you can monitor and reduce a fever can include:

  • Acetaminophen: This works as an antipyretic (fever reducer) and can help lower body temperature.
  • Digital thermometer: These can be more accurate and even less invasive for small children. Touchless versions are available so the patient doesn’t need to be touched.
  • Icepacks: In order to lower body temperature, icepacks can be placed against the body to lower the body temperature.

Fever is our body’s way of saying something is up, but it is also our body’s way of doing battle with viruses and bacteria. While this may seem dangerous, it is totally normal. Most of the time rest and plenty of fluids can help our bodies fight off any pathogen. If your fever should persist for more than a few days you should consult your physician or pediatrician. Monitor or reduce your fever and get back to feeling well!!

 

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