Aches, Pain, Fever (cont.)
John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- Fever facts
- What is a fever?
- What causes a fever?
- What are the signs and symptoms of a fever?
- How is a fever diagnosed?
- How should someone take a temperature for fever?
- What is the treatment for a fever?
- When should someone seek medical care for a fever?
- What are complications of a fever?
- What is the prognosis for a fever?
- Is it possible to prevent a fever?
- Where can people find more information about fevers?
- Find a local Family Physician in your town
What causes a fever?
Fever is the result of an immune response by your body to a foreign invader. These foreign invaders include viruses, bacteria, fungi, drugs, or other toxins.
These foreign invaders are considered fever-producing substances (called pyrogens), which trigger the body's immune response. Pyrogens tell the hypothalamus to increase the temperature set point in order to help the body fight off the infection.
Fever is a common symptom of most infections, and thus a risk factor for fever is exposure to infectious agents. In children, immunizations (such as shots) or teething in may cause low-grade fever. Autoimmune disorders, medication reactions, seizures, or cancers may also cause fevers.
Fever itself is not contagious; however, if the fever is caused by a viral or bacterial infection, the infection may be contagious.
What are the signs and symptoms of a fever?
A fever can cause someone to feel very uncomfortable. Signs and symptoms of a fever include the following:
- Temperature greater than 100.4 F (38 C) in adults and children
- Shivering, shaking, and chills
- Aching muscles and joints or other body aches
- Intermittent sweats or excessive sweating
- Rapid heart rate and/or palpitations
- Skin flushing or hot skin
- Feeling faint, dizzy, or lightheaded
- Eye pain or sore eyes
- With very high temperature (> 104 F/40 C), convulsions, hallucinations, or confusion is possible. Seek medical attention.
How is a fever diagnosed?
Along with having the generalized symptoms of a fever, taking one's temperature with a thermometer can confirm the diagnosis of a fever. A temperature greater than 100.4 F in adults or children is considered a fever.
Different tests may be done by a doctor, such a blood and imaging tests, to determine the cause of a fever and if the cause of the fever needs to be treated.
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