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How to Tell if You Have a Fever
A fever is the body's natural response to an underlying condition generally caused by a virus, infection, or another malady. A fever raises the body's internal temperature to create an inhospitable environment for the bug, which usually dies off within a matter of days. Generally, any temperature over 100.4 °F (38.0 °C) is considered a fever. This article will help self-identify a fever as well as give you advice about how to follow should the fever present a more serious medical situation.
Take your temperature if you have a thermometer.If your temperature is 103°F (39.4°C) or lower, try to treat the fever at home, seeing whether it responds to at-home care.If it's 104°F or higher, call emergency services or go straight to the emergency room; you may need immediate medical attention.
- If your temperature has been 103 °F (39 °C) for at least 3 days, call your doctor.
Try to feel the skin of the person in question.If the person's skin feels very hot to the touch, they are likely running a fever. Using this method, though, it's going to be hard to tell whether your temperature is at 98.7 °F (37.1 °C) or at 101.2 °F (38.4 °C). If the person feels hot to the touch, look for other symptoms or pick up a thermometer from a drug store to see if medical intervention may be necessary.
Check for signs of dehydration.A fever happens when your body raises its internal temperature in order to ward off harmful infections, viruses, or other maladies.Some research has even found that certain immune cells work better at these elevated temperatures. It's a natural defense mechanism. One significant result of this switching on of the body's heat switch is that patients can get or feel dehydrated.
- Signsthat you may be dehydrated include:
- Dry mouth
- Headache and fatigue
- Dry skin
- Dehydration can be made even worse if it is accompanied by vomiting or diarrhea.If you've experienced any one of these, especially, be sure to drink plenty of fluids to compensate for their loss. If you're struggling to drink fluids, try eating ice chips.
- Signsthat you may be dehydrated include:
Check for muscle aches.In many cases, muscle aches are associated with dehydration, but they can be especially aggravating in a patient with the fever.Note: If your fever presents with back or muscle stiffness, call a doctor right away, as your condition may be related to a number of complications including kidney issues or bacterial meningitis, which can potentially cause brain damage.
Look for especially bad signs of a fever.If your fever is at or above 104°F (40°C), you could experience some of the following in addition to hot flashes, dehydration, headaches, muscle aches, and general weakness. If you do experience any of the following, or have cause to believe that your fever is above 104°F, see a doctor immediately:
- Confusion or irritability
- Convulsions or seizures
When in doubt, see a doctor.If you are dealing with a child who potentially has a fever, and whose temperature clocks in at higher than 103°F (39.4°C), see a doctor. In most cases, treating mild or moderate fevers at home is completely acceptable; in few cases, the underlying reason for the fever may demand serious medical attention.
- If you have a high fever or if your symptoms impact your ability to function, call a friend or family member and ask them to escort you to the doctor's office. It's not worth the risk of trying to get yourself there when you're in a compromised state.
Getting Basic Treatment for Fever
Understand that for low-grade (mild) fevers, some doctors recommend letting the fever run its course.A fever is a body's natural response to a foreign body. Breaking the fever before the body has had time to attack the foreign body may prolong the illness or mask other symptoms associated with the fever.
Take an OTC pain medication.An over the counter pain medication, such as an NSAID, could help treat some of the discomfort associated with fever. Often, low doses of NSAIDs produce good results.
- Aspirin is for adults only. Aspirin given to children has been linked to a dangerous condition called Reye's Syndrome.It is therefore advisable only to administer aspirin as an adult.
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) are acceptable substitutes for all ages. If your temperature remains high even after the recommended dose, don't take more; instead, consult a doctor.
Drink plenty of fluids.Fluids are essential for fevers because they reduce the risk of dehydration, a serious concern during fevers. Stick mostly to water if experiencing a fever. Sodas and teas, in moderation, may help calm the stomach. Try to eat lukewarm soups and other liquid broths in addition to more solid foods. Popsicles may also help, and provide a cooling sensation in the process.
- Dehydration may exacerbate a fever if left untreated.
QuestionIs it normal to have a stomach ache when you have a fever?
Registered NurseRegistered NurseExpert AnswerYes, you can have a stomach ache with a fever.Thanks!
QuestionI have a humongous headache, my legs are sore, I feel like I haven't drunk water in weeks. I don't have a thermometer and my dad he is Hispanic, so he believes it will just go away. I didn't know what to do. Does this mean I have a fever? I also get chill, I always want to be in my blankets.
Registered NurseRegistered NurseExpert AnswerPlease see your doctor asap as it sounds like you are feeling pretty ill and might need medical care.Thanks!
QuestionCan a sore throat be accompanied by a fever?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, a fever can be accompanied by a sore throat as the throat, nose and head are all connected.Thanks!
QuestionDoes a headache, thirst, a sore throat, and other related symptoms indicate a fever?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNot necessarily, but it is possible. It would definitely be best to buy a thermometer to be on the safe side. If you suspect you have a fever, take fever reducers such as Tylenol and Ibuprofen and get some rest. That will also take care of the headache and reduce any swelling in your throat. It is also very important to drink a lot of fluids. If you don't improve at all or start to feel worse over a period of time, go to the doctor.Thanks!
QuestionWhat do you do if you have a fever and don't feel like eating?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThat is normal with a fever. You could try eating some of your favorite foods. If you still don't feel hungry, try drinking some water. It won't help with your appetite, but it's important to stay hydrated, especially when you're sick. The BRAT diet might help (bananas [sliced], rice, apple [puree] and [weak] tea).Thanks!
QuestionWhat should my body temperature be?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYour normal body temperature should be around 37 degrees Celsius or 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.Thanks!
QuestionI have a sore throat, dizziness, tiredness, and thirst, and I feel hot one moment and cold the next. Are these symptoms of a fever?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerDefinitely. Stay home from work/school if that's the case. Take a mild pain reliever like Tylenol or Ibuprofen. If you continue to feel this way, go to your doctor.Thanks!
QuestionWhy do I sweat when I have fever?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt is because your body is trying to cool itself down.Thanks!
QuestionIf I am taking my temperature with an oral thermometer, do I have to add or subtract a degree?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo. If you are taking your temperature with an oral thermometer, then you do not need to subtract/add a degree. The temperature you see is exact.Thanks!
QuestionWhat can I do for a sore throat and dizziness accompanied by a fever?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerRest and stay hydrated to treat your fever. Gargle lukewarm water with salt to ease a sort throat.Thanks!
Are chills a sign of fever? My mother had chills and she has a temperature of 98.6 F (37 C.)
I have a migraine and my head is hot, does that mean I have a fever?
Can weakness, a runny nose and the cough be signs of a fever?
The best way to tell if you have a fever is to use a thermometer to see if your body temperature is above 100.4 °F. If you don't have a thermometer on hand, ask someone to feel your skin to see if it's particularly hot to the touch. Also, muscle aches, dry mouth, and fatigue are common signs that a fever is present. Be sure to rest and get plenty of fluids to bring your fever down. If the fever is 104°F or higher, call emergency services or go straight to the emergency room for medical attention.
- You'll feel hot one moment and then get chilled the next. That usually means you are getting the flu, but not always.
- Take vitamins. And vitamin C is the best thing to fight colds, take it when you aren't sick too. It'll decrease the chances of you getting sick.
- Feel your cheeks. If they are hot that may mean you have a fever.
- Chills are often a symptom of a fever, however, they can also be a symptom of a more serious condition such as hypothermia or meningitis. If you do experience severe chills or chills lasting longer than 3 days, contact your healthcare professional to diagnose the true underlying cause.
- You'll feel flushed and your cheeks may turn a bit red, but it's just because of the heat. If you have an ice pack, it's good to put it on your face/forehead to cool down a bit.
- Make sure you drink a variety of lukewarm and cool fluids throughout the day, it helps soothe your body as well as keeping it hydrated
- If you have a fever for more than 48 hours (in general), without it going down, go to your doctor.
- If you feel dizzy and can't really stand up, wait till you feel better before you walk around.
- If the fever is at or above 104 °F (40 °C) for an adult, 103 °F (39 °C) for a child, or 100.4 °F (38.0 °C) for an infant, seek urgent medical care.
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