Outfoxing a Fever

What is a Fever?

This may sound like an idiotic question, but if you’re going to beat a fever, you need to know what you’re up against. On the surface, a fever is simply an abnormally high body temperature, usually accompanying an illness or other medical condition. A temperature of greater than 100.4 degrees is considered febrile.

Fever is one of the body’s natural reactions to disease and a defense against infections. A number of conditions that cause fever include:

  • Infections and infectious diseases such as influenza, HIV, malaria, mononucleosis, and gastroenteritis.
  • Medicines such as antibiotics, narcotics, barbiturates, and antihistamines
  • Trauma or injury like heart attack, stroke, heatstroke, and burns.
  • Damage to tissue from hemolysis (the breaking open of blood cells), surgery, heart attack, crush syndrome, or hemorrhage.
  • Other conditions that can cause fever include: skin inflammation, arthritis, hyperthyroidism, inflammatory bowel disease, etc.

Beating the Heat

It’s important to understand that a fever is one of the body’s natural reactions to disease and, as such, not all fevers need to be treated. Fever can be an important indicator whether or not a treatment is working. They also increase the levels of antiviral and anticancer interferon in the blood, making it harder for viruses and bacteria to multiply.

For a fever of less than 102 degrees, not treatment is needed. The best thing to do in this case is wait for it to pass. For a temperature of greater than 102, there are some things you can do:

  • Don’t panic. Don’t go for the meds to quickly or you’ll get rid of your fever before your body fixes the issue it needed to have a fever for.
  • Take antipyretic medications like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or aspirin. (Note: Aspirin should not be administered to kids younger than 18.)
  • Cool your body down by taking lukewarm showers or baths, applying damp cloths or icepacks to your head, legs, feet, and neck, and dressing in light, comfy clothes.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids, especially water.
  • Eat if you get hungry. Don’t force food down your throat, but if you need to, eat something. Try some soup if you aren’t sure.
  • Stay comfortable. Get plenty of rest and keep the room cool.
  • If your fever rises beyond 104 degrees or last several days, go see a doctor.