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What is considered a fever?

A fever is a temporary rise in body temperature, often in response to an infection, inflammation, or other underlying condition. It's a natural immune response to help the body fight off pathogens and promote healing. A fever can feel like warmth, chills, body aches, and fatigue. Different levels of fever include:

  • Low-grade (100.4-102.1°F): Mild discomfort.

  • Moderate (102.2-104°F): Increased discomfort, shivering.

  • High (104.1-106°F): Severe chills, sweating, weakness.

  • Hyperpyrexia (above 106°F): Serious symptoms, seek medical help.


What are the causes of a fever?

Fever can be caused by various factors, typically stemming from the body's immune response to infections, inflammation, or other underlying conditions. Some common causes of fever include:

  • Infections: Bacterial, viral, or fungal infections, such as the flu, colds, urinary tract infections (UTIs), pneumonia, and strep throat, can lead to fever as the body fights off the invading pathogens.

  • Inflammatory conditions: Inflammatory disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and lupus can trigger fever due to the body's immune response to chronic inflammation.

  • Heat exhaustion: Exposure to excessive heat, strenuous physical activity, or hot weather can lead to heat-related illnesses and fever.

  • Medications: Certain medications, such as antibiotics, can sometimes induce fever as an adverse reaction.

  • Autoimmune diseases: Conditions like systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and vasculitis can cause the immune system to mistakenly attack healthy tissues, resulting in fever.

  • Cancer: Some cancers, particularly leukemia and lymphoma, can cause fever as a symptom of the disease or due to the body's response to cancerous cells.

  • Post-surgical response: Surgery can trigger a fever as a natural part of the body's healing process.

  • Vaccinations: Fever is a common side effect of some vaccinations as the immune system responds to the vaccine components.

  • Injury or trauma: Severe injuries or trauma can lead to inflammation and fever as the body works to repair the damage.

  • Teething (in infants): The process of teething in infants can sometimes cause a low-grade fever.


How to relieve symptoms of a low-grade fever

Relieving symptoms of a low-grade fever involves a combination of self-care measures to help your body recover and manage discomfort. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids, such as water, clear soups, and herbal teas, to stay hydrated and prevent dehydration, which can worsen fever.

  • Rest: Get adequate rest to allow your body to focus on fighting off the underlying cause of the fever.

  • Maintain comfortable temperature: Dress in lightweight, breathable clothing and use light bedding to help regulate your body temperature. Avoid excessive bundling or overheating.

  • Cool compresses: Apply cool, damp cloths or use cool compresses on your forehead, neck, and underarms to help lower body temperature and provide relief.

  • Over-the-counter medications: Non-prescription fever-reducing medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), can help lower fever and alleviate discomfort. Follow the recommended dosages and guidelines.

  • Hygiene: Wash your hands regularly to prevent the spread of infections and maintain good overall hygiene.

  • Nutrition: Eat a balanced diet rich in nutrients to support your immune system. Foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help your body recover.

  • Avoid overexertion: Engage in light activities, but avoid strenuous exercises that could raise your body temperature further.

  • Monitor symptoms: Keep track of your temperature and other symptoms. If your fever persists or worsens, or if you experience severe symptoms, seek medical attention.


How to handle a sudden fever when it spikes?

Handling a sudden fever when it spikes involves taking prompt and appropriate actions to manage the situation and provide comfort. Here's what you can do:

  • Rest and hydration: Find a comfortable and cool place to rest. Drink plenty of fluids, such as water, clear soups, or electrolyte solutions, to stay hydrated and prevent dehydration.

  • Remove excess clothing: Dress in lightweight and breathable clothing to allow your body to release heat more effectively. Remove excess layers if you're feeling too warm.

  • Take a lukewarm bath or shower: A lukewarm bath or shower can help bring down your body temperature. Make sure the water is not too cold, as this can cause discomfort or shivering.

  • Monitor temperature: Keep track of your temperature using a thermometer. If your fever remains high or continues to rise, seek medical attention.

  • Seek medical help: If your fever is accompanied by severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, persistent vomiting, confusion, or a seizure, seek immediate medical assistance from a Baylor St. Luke's Medical Group primary care provider.

  • Consider underlying causes: If your fever is persistent or recurrent, it's important to address any underlying causes. Consult a healthcare professional to determine the root cause and receive appropriate treatment.


When to see a doctor with a fever

You should consider seeing a doctor about a fever in the following situations:

  • High fever

  • Prolonged fever

  • Severe symptoms

  • Underlying health conditions

  • Travel or exposure

  • Infants

  • Chronic medical conditions

  • Worsening symptoms

  • Age considerations

Featured Updates

Guide to self-care for caregivers + free habit tracker

OCT 26, 2021

Check out these helpful resources on understanding caregiver burnout, how to ask for caregiver support, and taking breaks to get the self-care you need.

Read More Additional information about Guide to self-care for caregivers + free habit tracker

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