It can be alarming to realize that you’ve got a fever – Especially in these uncertain times. One of the most commonly reported symptoms of COVID-19 is a fever, after all. However, fevers are an indicator of far more than respiratory conditions, and this can do little to relieve anxieties about fevers. Visits to the doctor’s office can be expensive and nerve-wracking, but don’t worry – This article will tell you what you need to know about fevers and when seeing a doctor is necessary.
What is a fever?
In the 1800s, a German doctor named Carl Wunderlich took a survey of temperatures using thermometers under patients’ armpits. He found that 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit was the average temperature after surveying enough people, and the standard persisted. While the medical community now agrees that the average temperature is closer to 97.5 F, the consensus is still that a fever can be considered present when the body’s temperature reaches 100.4 F.
A fever is usually the sign that something is wrong in the body, but they are not illnesses themselves. Even rigorous exercise can cause a short-lived fever, but they are usually part of the body’s way of fighting off invaders. Many viruses fail to replicate in hotter environments, and bacteria begin to die as temperatures rise. Fevers between 100.4 F and 102.2 F are considered low-grade fevers and often don’t require any treatment unless accompanied by other symptoms such as dizziness or confusion or if the fever is present in an infant.
However, if the fever causes discomfort, there are numerous options for home treatment.
Treating a Fever Yourself
Low-grade fevers can be treated with a variety of home remedies and over-the-counter medications. With any fever, you should drink plenty of water. Avoid sugary drinks as these can dehydrate you quickly – Especially with a fever – Rather than keep you hydrated. Drinking cool water can reduce fever, as can bathing in cold or lukewarm water. Wearing thin and loose clothing also helps heat escape the body.
Over-the-counter remedies include drugs with acetaminophens such as Tylenol or others, and ibuprofens such as Advil, Motrin IB, or others. These work to reduce inflammation and fever and are found in many cough medicines and pill forms. It is essential not to give medication to an infant or toddler without speaking with a doctor and to follow the directions on the packaging of any medicine you use. Mild fevers can also be a sign of infectious disease, so you may still be wondering when to seek help.
When to See a Doctor
Even a higher grade fever – At or above 102.2 degrees – Will usually resolve itself in a few days. Fevers that don’t resolve after five days are one such reason, as this could be a sign of an ongoing condition that needs treatment that you won’t be able to provide at home. If you are using medication, switching from acetaminophen to ibuprofen can cause side effects. If your fever doesn’t respond to them and lowers within a few hours of a few doses, you may also have a more severe condition.
Consider seeking medical care if your fever spikes abruptly. Fevers in infants three months old or younger should always receive medical attention, as should anybody who has a fever and the following symptoms:
- Stiff neck
- Ear pain
- Persistent sore throat
- Purple mottled rash
- Confusion or cognitive changes
- Painful urination
- Respiratory distress such as irregular breathing
Fevers are usually not something to worry about in and of themselves and can generally be treated at home easily. Most fevers are caused by things other than COVID-19. However, some situations require medical attention, and having access to healthcare services is the first step to getting that attention. Chat with an NHIA Agent today to learn more.