As flu season flares up, so do fevers. There are different causes for fevers, and plenty of misinformation surrounding those causes and remedies. Here’s a quick guide to refresh your knowledge on fevers.
A fever is the immune system’s response to various medical conditions, most commonly infectious diseases or bacterial infection. A fever starts in the brain, with the hypothalamus, which acts as the body’s thermostat. When a pyrogen enters the body (commonly through virus or bacteria), it triggers the brain’s thermostat to raise the temperature.
The body achieves fever by several ways, first by narrowing blood vessels to store heat. If the body wants to create more heat, it will shiver, which is a quick way for muscles to create internal heat. If a person feels chilled and is shivering, their fever is rising. If a person feels unpleasantly hot, the fever has stabilized and they are experiencing the new high temperature.
A fever is a very natural response to illness, and is generally nothing to panic over or even treat, if you can bear it. Brain damage from high temperatures begins to occur at 107.6ºF, which is generally caused by hyperpyrexia or hyperthermia, not fever.
If a fever causes great discomfort, it can be treated with antipyretics, such as ibuprofen. Ibuprofen is proven to work better on child fevers than acetaminophen. Additionally, you can provide relief by changing the room temperature, or putting a cool, damp washcloth on the forehead.
As always, if you have questions about your health and the correct medication to take, see your doctor.