Fever

A fever is a raised body temperature and can be caused by infections, heat stroke and dehydration.

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What causes a Fever?

Fever is a raised body temperature in response to illness, facilitating and accelerating recovery from causes like infection, heat stroke and dehydration.

It is usually associated with other fever symptoms that may help identify the cause of the illness.

What are the symptoms of a fever?

  • a fever temperature is above 37.5˚C (for children) and 37.0˚C (for adults)
  • hot and flushed face
  • headache
  • body aches
  • feeling light-headed
  • sweating and thirst
  • head, neck and body may feel hot while hands and feet are cold
  • shivering
  • unexplained crying and irritability (in children)
  • confusion (especially in the elderly)

How to reduce a fever?

  • Rest, preferably in bed, in a cool and well-ventilated room.
  • Take plenty of liquids like water, fruit juices and clear soups.
  • Remove thick clothes or blankets.
  • Take a cool shower.
  • For children, sponge the body with tap or lukewarm water to cool down the body especially if the temperature is above 38.5˚C. Stop sponging when the child shivers. Cover him up and wait a while before continuing. Generally, you should not sponge a child for more than 30 minutes at one go.
  • Eat as usual or according to your appetite.
  • Take your body temperature every 6 hours. To take an accurate reading of oral temperature, do not drink or eat anything half an hour before.
  • Take anti-fever medicines such as paracetamol. Do not use aspirin for children under 16 years of age. Consult your pharmacist before buying these over-the-counter medicines.

When to see the doctor for a fever

See your family doctor when:

  • the fever is 38˚C and above in adults and children
  • the child is less than 4 months old
  • the fever lasts more than 5 days (3 days in children)
  • you are pregnant and have a fever

When is a fever an emergency?

Go to the Emergency Department when:

  • the child has associated difficulty in breathing
  • the fever is associated with a stiff neck
  • there are fever symptoms such as severe headache, severe sore throat, nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, rash, extreme thirst, cough with green sputum or blood in the sputum, earache, irritability or confusion, abdominal pain, pain when urinating, severe back pain, and fits.

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