Having a fever means having a body temperature over the normal range of 98 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Fevers can accompany many types of illness, and depending on the cause, fevers can be an indication that something benign or serious is going on. The most accurate way to measure a fever is with a thermometer, but in the absence of one, there are some ways to read symptoms to tell you if you need to seek medical attention.
Checking for the Symptoms of a Fever :
1) Feel the person’s forehead or neck.
The most common way to check for a fever without a thermometer is to feel the person’s forehead or neck to see if it feels hotter than usual.
- Use either the back of your hand or your lips, since the skin on your palm isn’t as sensitive as these other areas.
- Do not feel their hands or feet to check for a fever, as these can feel cold when a person’s body temperature is in fact high.
- Keep in mind this is the first step to figuring out if something might be wrong, but it can’t accurately tell you if someone has a dangerously high fever. Sometimes a person’s skin can feel cool and clammy when they have a high fever, and sometimes their skin might feel very hot even though they don’t have a fever.
- Make sure to check the person’s skin temperature in a room that isn’t too hot or cold, and don’t check right after the person has been sweating due to exercise.
2) Check if the person’s skin is flush or red. A fever will usually cause the skin on the person’s cheeks and face to turn red. However, this may be more difficult to notice if the person has darker skin.
3) Notice if the person is lethargic.
A fever is often accompanied by lethargy or extreme fatigue, like moving or speaking slowly or a refusal to get out of bed.
- Children with fever may complain of feeling weak or tired, refuse to go out and play or have a loss of appetite.
4) Ask the person if they feel achy.
Body aches in the muscles and joints also often happen at the same time as a fever.
- Headaches are also commonly experienced by people along with fever.
5) Find out if the person is dehydrated.
When a person has a fever, it’s easy for him or her to become dehydrated. Ask the person if they are very thirsty or if their mouth feels dry.
- If the person has urine that is bright yellow, this could be an indication that he or she is dehydrated and may have a fever.
6) Ask the person if they feel nauseous.
Nausea is a key symptom of a fever and other maladies like the flu. Pay close attention if the person feels nauseated or is vomiting, and can’t keep food down.
7) Notice if the person is shivering and sweating.
As the person’s body temperature goes up and down, its common for the person to shiver and feel cold, even when everyone else in the room feels comfortable.
- The person may also alternate between feeling hot and cold as the result of a fever. As your temperature goes up and down it is common to shiver and feel very cold even when those around you are feeling comfortable.
8) Treat any febrile convulsions that last less than three minutes.
A febrile convulsion is a kind of shaking fit that happens either just before or while a child has a high temperature. About 1 in 20 children under 5 years old will have a febrile convulsion at some point. Although it can be upsetting to watch your child experience a febrile convulsion, it does not cause permanent damage to your child. To treat a febrile convulsion:
- Place your child on their side in a clear space or area on the floor.
- Do not try to hold your child during the fit and do not try to put anything in your child’s mouth during the fit, as they will not swallow their tongue.
- Stay with your child under the convulsion stops after 1-2 minutes.
- Lay your child on their side in a recovery position while they recover.
Determining if the Fever is Severe:
1) Seek immediate medical attention if your child’s febrile convulsions last longer than three minutes.
This may be a sign of a more serious condition. Call 108 for an ambulance and stay with your child, keeping them on their side in the recovery position.
You should also get immediate medical attention if the febrile convulsions are accompanied by:
- A stiff neck
- Breathing problems
- Extreme sleepiness
2) Call a doctor if your child is under the age of 2 and their symptoms persist more than 1 day. Give the child lots of fluids and encourage them to try to rest.
3) Get medical care if the person experiences severe abdominal pain, chest pain, difficulty swallowing and a stiff neck.
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4) Call a doctor if the person is agitated, confused, or experiencing hallucinations.These could all be signs of a virus or a bacterial infection like pneumonia.
5) Get medical care if there is blood in their stool, urine, or mucus. These are also signs of a more serious infection.
6) Seek medical care if the person’s immune system is already weakened by another disease like cancer or AIDS. The fever could be a sign their immune system is under attack or experiencing other complications or conditions.
7) Discuss other serious conditions that could cause a fever with your doctor.
Fevers are caused by a variety of different maladies.
Ask your doctor if the fever might be an indication of the following illnesses:
- A virus
- A bacterial infection
- Heat exhaustion or sunburn
- A tumor that’s malignant
- Certain antibiotics and blood pressure drugs
- Immunizations like the diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis vaccines
Treating the Fever at Home:
1) Treat the fever at home if it is mild and you are over the age of 18.
The fever is your body way of trying to heal or recover and most fevers go away on their own after a few days.
- A fever can be brought down by the right kind of treatment.
- Drink plenty of fluids and rest. Taking medication is not necessary, but it may increase your comfort level. Use an over-the-counter fever reducer.
- Call your doctor if your symptoms last more than 3 days and/or more severe symptoms develop.
2) Treat the fever with rest and fluids if your child does not display any severe symptoms.
Children and teens should not take aspirin as its linked to a condition called Reyes’ disease
- As well, if your child has a temperature under 102 degrees Fahrenheit (38.9 degrees Celsius), they can likely be treated at home.
- Visit the doctor if the fever persists over 3 days and/or more severe symptoms develop.
- It’s important to note that the most accurate way to check for a fever at home is to take an accurate temperature reading with a thermometer. The best places to check for a temperature are the rectum and under the tongue, or with a tympanic (ear) thermometer. Armpit temperatures are less accurate.
- If the child is under 3 months and has a fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius), see a doctor.