Fever refers to an elevated body temperature. This is a symptom that can occur in conjunction with various infections and diseases. All about the causes, how to take a fever correctly, and how to lower a fever if it gets too high.
One speaks of fever from a body temperature of at least 38 degrees Celsius, of high fever in adults from 39, in children from 40 degrees Celsius. It definitely matters where and when you take a fever: because the different methods of measurement can give different values.
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Elevated temperature: at what point do you have a fever?
A fever is not a disease; rather, a rise in body temperature is a clear symptom that the body is struggling with an infection or inflammation. Therefore, a fever triggered by an illness is not a bad thing per se. Rather, it is a healthy defense reaction and thus even important for fighting pathogens.
During the course of the day, the body temperature changes and with it the borderline to fever: in the afternoon and evening it is up to one degree Celsius higher than in the morning. From a body temperature of 37.5 degrees Celsius measured in the morning, one speaks of elevated temperature, from 38 degrees of fever.
Fever chart for adults
|Normal body temperature||36.5-37.4 degrees|
|Elevated temperature||37.5-38.0 degrees|
|Mild fever||38,1-38,5 degrees|
|Moderate fever||38.6-39.0 degrees|
|High fever||39,1-39,9 degrees|
|Life-threatening fever||40-42 degrees|
Sometimes "exaggerates it the body with the defense reaction and it comes to a life-threatening temperature rise. In hyperpyrexia, the fever rises above 41 degrees due to a centrally induced abnormal reaction in the brain. This is what happens in septic fever, for example. There is a risk of total circulatory collapse and organ failure. In this case, an*emergency physician should be notified immediately.
Taking a temperature – the right way to do it
The best way to measure fever is with a thermometer. There are different parts of the body that are suitable for this:
In the anus (rectal): This method is not very popular, but it is the most accurate. To make it less uncomfortable, you can rub the tip of the thermometer with some greasy cream or Vaseline beforehand.
In the mouth (oral): Make sure not to drink anything cold or hot beforehand. The thermometer should be placed under the tongue for accurate measurement, the mouth must remain closed. If you keep this in mind, the measurement in the mouth also provides very accurate values.
In the vagina (vaginal): Women who use the temperature method to determine ovulation like to measure vaginally. The advantage: it is fast, very accurate and usually more comfortable than in the buttocks.
Under the armpit (axillary): This method is practical, but unfortunately quite inaccurate. In any case, you should add 0.5 degrees to the result.
In the ear: In addition to the classic clinical thermometer, there are also infrared thermometers for the ear. The funnel-shaped sensor must only be held briefly in the ear canal and records the temperature very quickly. This method is completely painless and is especially suitable for children. Caution is advised with babies, as the measurement can be incorrect, especially with infants, due to the still very small auditory canal.
Fever in babies and small children
Small children generally get an elevated body temperature much faster than older children or adults – the smaller they are, the quicker. This is because the temperature control center in the brain is not yet fully developed. Wild romping or excitement can already trigger a clearly perceptible temperature rise in them.
Therefore, the general condition of a child should always be taken into consideration: If it feels bad, it shows clear signs of illness, it seems apathetic? Nevertheless, you should have a fever in children clarified after one day at the latest; in infants, you should go to the pediatrician immediately if you have a fever. Because the risk of dehydration is very high in babies and small children. Therefore, always make sure that you drink enough fluids.
Accompanying symptoms in febrile children
Depending on their age, children are not always able to articulate their physical condition in this way, which is why observation of symptoms is particularly important. While again, fever always causes individual symptoms, some signs are more common in febrile children, for example:
Febrile convulsion – complication in febrile children
A febrile convulsion is a relatively common complication in febrile infants, regardless of the cause of the fever. A febrile seizure can be very frightening: resembles an epileptic seizure, but is usually over after a few minutes and is usually not dangerous. Some children have a stronger tendency and convulse already at temperatures around 38 degrees, others are not affected even at high fever. As they get older, febrile seizures usually do not occur at all. As a first aid measure for febrile convulsions:
- Put the child on the floor on a blanket
- Remove all sharp or dangerous objects from its radius so that it cannot injure itself
- giving fever suppositories
- Call pediatrician
- If the child loses consciousness, place in the recovery position and call 911
If your child has already had a febrile convulsion, you can ask your pediatrician to prescribe an antispasmodic (available as a suppository or enema), which you can give prophylactically the next time a febrile infection occurs.
Treatment: How to reduce fever?
Whether and in what form a therapy for fever is necessary depends primarily on the underlying disease that caused the fever, and also on the severity of the fever. If the underlying disease is treated, the fever usually disappears as well. Basically, fever is a healthy defense reaction and should therefore not be suppressed so that the infection can heal as quickly as possible.
In case of higher fever, antipyretics are recommended. If possible, after consulting a doctor, over-the-counter medications from the pharmacy can be used temporarily for this purpose. The effect starts after about 15 to 30 minutes and lasts for about four to six hours. The fever-reducing effect usually also improves the accompanying symptoms such as headache and pain in the limbs. Suitable antipyretic agents include acetaminophen, ibuprofen or, for adults, acetylsalicylic acid (ASA).
Antibiotics can only work if there is an infectious disease caused by bacteria. In contrast, they do not help with viral infections and other causes. Antibiotics are therefore not part of the standard therapy for fever, but are only used after the doctor has made a well-founded diagnosis.
The best home remedies for fever
In addition, home remedies can be used to reduce the fever. Light clothing, a cool room temperature, and cool drinks can help reduce fever. However, these measures are not suitable for shivering and trembling and/or cold hands and feet. Here the body should be kept warm.
In case of fever, the body must recover. Therefore you should especially Bed rest prescribe.
After heavy sweating, they should change the bed cover regularly and wear only light bed clothes. Air the room regularly in short bursts.
Drink plenty of fluids Water and tea to compensate for the loss of fluids that occurs with fever. Elderberry juice, elderberry tea and lime blossom tea have a diaphoretic and antipyretic effect.
Eucalyptus tea can have a fever-reducing effect: add 25 grams of dried eucalyptus leaves to a liter of boiling water and steep for 15 minutes. Drink four cups daily.
Very effective are Calf compress, leave them in place until they have warmed up. Calf compresses should not be applied under the bed cover. Evaporation is prevented and the calf wrap is ineffective. Therefore, turn back the covers. In addition, cold compresses should only be used on warm legs and feet.
Vinegar socks: Add three tablespoons of vinegar to one liter of cold water. Soak cotton socks in it, wring them out and put them on. Put on a pair of thick socks and get into a warm bed, but tuck back the covers (see Calf Wrap). Renew vinegar socks after about an hour.
Common accompanying symptoms of fever
Depending on the causative disease, fever is accompanied by accompanying symptoms, especially:
- Chills and sweating
- Fatigue and feeling of sickness and aching limbs
- Reddened and heated skin and diarrhea
- Skin rash (common in children)
- very rarely disturbances in cognition
When to seek medical help with fever?
If fever exceeds 39.5 degrees Celsius or if fever persists beyond three days without improvement, adults should seek medical attention. Home remedies and self-medication may not be sufficient in these cases. In addition, a visit to the doctor should always be made if, in addition to the fever, other symptoms and, in the case of children, conspicuous behavior occur.
Fever during pregnancy
The body can handle moderately high fevers well, even during pregnancy. If the fever rises too high, it can be dangerous for the baby. 38.5 degrees is often cited as the critical value. If the body temperature rises, you should consult your gynecologist. Paracetamol may be given as an antipyretic during pregnancy. In general, during pregnancy, avoid medication as much as possible. Home remedies such as calf compresses are better to reduce the fever.
These causes can be behind fever
Fever can have many different causes. The most common triggers are infections with viruses or bacteria. However, it can also occur in the course of cancer or certain autoimmune diseases, in which the immune system is directed against the body’s own structures, as well as, for example, as a result of taking certain medications.
Important causes of fever include Infectious diseases like:
, flu-like infection
- Infection with coronavirus (pneumonia)
- Acute bronchitis (sinusitis) (otitis media) (angina tonsillares) (meningitis)
- Gastrointestinal inflammation (gastroenteritis)
- Urinary tract infections such as cystitis
- Wound infections (appendicitis)
- Other infectious diseases such as HIV infection, mononucleosis, typhoid fever, malaria and other tropical diseases
- Childhood diseases such as mumps, measles, rubella (sepsis)
Fever with flu and viral flu (influenza)
The most common reason adults get a fever is a flu-like infection. Typical cold symptoms such as cough, cold, sore throat are then accompanied by mild to moderate fever, which rises rather slowly and is rarely above 38 degrees. Here, too, the course of the fever can often tell whether it is a banal cold or a real flu (influenza). In case of flu, the fever rises much faster, usually within a few hours, and can also be above 39 degrees for a few days.
Other causes of fever
- Fever caused by medicines
- Tumors (Hodgkin’s lymphoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, colon cancer and kidney cancer)
- Occlusion of blood vessels in the lungs due to blood clots (pulmonary embolism)
- rheumatic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis
- Other autoimmune diseases (such as lupus erythematosus)
- chronic inflammatory bowel diseases (e.g. Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis)
Hormones also have an influence on body temperature, especially in women. This is how the body’s temperature changes during the cycle: before ovulation, the temperature drops; immediately afterwards, it rises by up to half a degree. During menopause, many women have fluctuating body temperature, resulting in the well-known "hot flashes".
fever after vaccinations
Often, a reaction occurs a few hours to days after a vaccination, showing that the immune system is reacting to the disease trigger. The body then actually goes through the disease, but in a weakened way. Fever often occurs as a reaction to the vaccination.
Three-day fever is a common cause fever in children
Almost all infectious diseases in childhood are accompanied by fever. As "childhood diseases is the term for infections that leave a lifelong immunity and are very infectious, which is why you are usually infected in childhood. One of the most common infections in infancy, which practically every child goes through, is three-day fever. The child has a relatively high fever above 39 degrees for a few days – typically three – but is usually surprisingly cheerful and otherwise shows no signs of illness. After the body temperature drops, a characteristic skin rash then appears.
The*doctor*will first measure whether you have a fever. An ear thermometer is usually used for this purpose. If the body temperature is elevated, further examinations follow in order to find the causes of the fever.
As part of the medical history, clarify the circumstances under which the fever occurred, whether, for example, at home, after a stay in the hospital, after contact with animals or after a trip abroad. Previous injuries, surgeries and treatments, or other illnesses that occurred or persist during the time of the fever, as well as information about the use of medications or contact with people who have been ill with an infectious disease, can also provide information about the cause of the fever.
The interview is followed by a detailed physical examination. An exact determination of the temperature as well as the inspection of the throat and pharynx as well as the ears, lymph nodes and, if necessary, the skin are part of the physical examination in the case of an unclear fever, as is listening to the lungs and the heart.