A fever is the increase in your body’s temperature, usually following an illness or disease. The fever will be a temporary increase, though the severity of the fever determines whether or not medical assistance is required. For children, a fever of more than 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit when taken orally is considered a fever or 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit when taken rectally. Adults will have a fever when their temperature is above 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit, though it depends on other conditions and the time of day. Some of the other things that can affect a fever, aside from illness, are a woman’s menstrual cycle, physical activity, heavy clothing, eating, strong emotions, certain medications, high room temperature, or high humidity.

Causes of Fevers

Aside from general causes of fevers, like wearing heavy clothing or physical activity, fever usually indicates some type of illness or medical condition. This includes an infection like cellulitis, meningitis, pneumonia, tuberculosis, or appendicitis, respiratory infections like a cold or flu, sinus infections, or bronchitis, urinary tract infections, or gastroenteritis. Children can get a fever when they are teething, so that is something to be aware of, though it should not be higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Inflammatory and autoimmune disorders also cause fevers such as arthritis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and vasculitis. Some cancers may cause fever as well, including Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s Disease, and leukemia.

Home Care of Fevers

Some of the milder fevers can be treated at home without ever having to visit the doctor, though if your child has a fever, you might want to at least call his or her pediatrician. Some things to look for in someone with a fever are if they are still able to do normal activities, if they keep down food or drink, if they are alert, have a normal skin color and how they look when their temperature starts dropping. Some things to keep in mind when lowering a fever are to avoid bundling them up during the child and removing excess blankets, giving them a lukewarm bath and avoiding any type of cold or ice bath. To lower a fever, try starting with acetaminophen or ibuprofen and giving it to them every 4-6 hours, except children under 6 months old who should not have ibuprofen. Be sure they drink plenty of water and eat things like soup, gelatin, or popsicles. Avoid sugary drinks like sports drinks or fruit juice.

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