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 do health-care professionals diagnose a fever?
- How should someone take a temperature for fever?
- What is the treatment for a fever?
- What are home remedies for a fever?
- When should someone seek medical care for a fever?
- What kind of doctors treat 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 signal the hypothalamus in the brain to increase the body temperature set point in order to help the body fight off the infection.
Fever is a common symptom of most infections such a colds and gastroenteritis (also referred to as stomach flu), and thus a risk factor for fever is exposure to infectious agents. Typical infections that may cause a fever include those of the ear, throat, lung, bladder, and kidney. In children, immunizations (such as vaccine shots) or teething may cause short-term low-grade fever. Autoimmune disorders (including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and inflammatory bowel disease), medication side effects, seizures, blood clots, hormone disorders, cancers, and illicit drug use 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 a person 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
- Loss of appetite
- Fussiness (in children and toddlers)
- Also important to note in children are symptoms that can accompany an infection, including sore throat, cough, earache, vomiting, and diarrhea
- With very high temperatures (>104 F/40 C), convulsions, hallucinations, or confusion is possible. Always seek medical attention for a high fever or if these symptoms occur.
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