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First Aid Guide for Dealing with Fever

Team AckoJan 16, 2023

Fever is one of the most common medical conditions. It can range from a low-grade Fever that resolves on its own to more severe cases where it can even cause seizures. Fever by itself is not a disease, but rather a manifestation of an underlying issue. It is therefore important to understand when to see a doctor, the ways in which it can be controlled at home, and the indicators of a potentially more serious underlying cause. Read ahead for details related to Fever and a first aid guide to deal with it.

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Contents

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What is Fever?

Fever is defined as a temporary rise in body temperature from the baseline. It occurs due to the release of certain chemicals called pyrogens in the body in response to some underlying problem. It is an indication that your body's immune system is at work. 

Fever contributes to improved immunity by:

  • Helping the cells of your immune system work better against the target

  • Decreasing the multiplication of an invading organism

  • Decreasing the effects of any toxins on the body’s cells

Fever can also occur due to stress, high outside temperatures, exercise, or post-vaccination. 

How to check if I have a Fever?

Normal body temperature is between 97`F to 99.5`F (36.2`C to 37.5`C) in adults. It is a slightly higher range in children, between 97`F to 100.3`F. 

You are said to have a Fever if your body temperature records over 100.4`F. 

The measurement of body temperature is carried out using thermometers. A digital or mercury thermometer is used to measure temperature. Common methods include oral or under the arm. 

Different regions record body temperature slightly differently, but they correlate with each other. Axillary or underarm temperature tends to be 1.1`F lesser than core body temperature.

Fever can be associated with features such as:

  • Headache

  • Tiredness, fatigue

  • Body ache

  • Chills

  • Muscle quivers and shivering

  • Poor appetite

  • Aversion to light (photophobia)

  • Dry tongue and lips

  • Flushed face

  • Low urine output

Depending on the site of infection, you may have:

  • Cold

  • Cough

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Loose stools

  • Constipation

  • Abdominal pain

  • Localised pain at the site of infection

First aid for Fever

It is important to understand that not all Fevers require medical therapy or hospital care. Most low-grade Fevers require supportive care only, as they usually settle by themselves. The grading of Fever is illustrated here:

GRADE

RANGE (IN FAHRENHEIT)

LOW

100.4 - 102.2

MODERATE

102.2 - 104.0

HIGH

104.0 - 106.0

When Fever is more than 106.0`F (hyperpyrexia) it requires immediate hospital care. In general, if you have any associated symptoms that are distressing you, visiting a doctor is better.

Here are some of the first-aid and home-based measures you can rely on while dealing with low-grade Fever at home: 

  • Tepid sponging is a very effective way in controlling Fever in all age groups. This basically involves using a washcloth to dab/sponge/bathe the body. It helps bring down temperature without using medicines. It is effective when repeated multiple times throughout the day.

  • Drinking plenty of water and fluids is very important. Fever causes dehydration that results in headache, fatigue, and muscle pain and when left unchecked can cause serious damage. 

    • Drinking water, juices, ORS, semi-solid preparations (like porridge), etc., helps in improving your hydration levels, as well as in making sure you get some nutrition. Drinking more fluids directly helps in decreasing the duration and severity of symptoms.

  • Rest and sleep allow your body to focus more on healing.

  • Maintaining a cool environment is beneficial, by using a fan or air-conditioning. Use a light blanket if you feel chills.

  • Using medications to reduce Fever called antipyretics such as paracetamol. These medicines are usually available over the counter, usually either in tablet or syrup form. Another commonly used medicine is ibuprofen. Aspirin is not recommended for use in children younger than 17 years, as it may cause a serious side effect called Reye’s syndrome in this population. 

  • With these OTC medicines, it is important to know how much dosage to take. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist to understand the correct dose. Underdosing can result in no effect, whereas overdosing can be life-threatening. 

  • Generally, for adults (over 55 kg weight), 500mg to 1000mg tablets of paracetamol can be taken every 4-6 hours. The maximum daily dose of paracetamol in adults is 3000mg.

  • In children between 10-15 years (45-55 kg weight), the maximum daily dose is 2000mg. This also applies to adults under the 55kg weight limit.

  • For younger children, it is best to consult your doctor for the correct dose. This dose is calculated based on the weight. If you have not understood how much syrup to give at one time, make sure to ask your doctor again. 

  • If your child is less than 5kg in weight, do not give paracetamol without consulting your doctor.

  • If an excess dose has been taken/administered, go to a hospital immediately. 

  • If your Fever persists even after a few doses of the medication, consult your doctor before taking more tablets. 

Do not use any other medications like antibiotics without a prescription from your doctor after evaluation. 

When should I visit a doctor for my Fever?

Fever definitely requires further work-up and treatment if:

  • It lasts for more than 3 days despite taking medication

  • The temperature exceeds more than 103`F

  • Associated with confusion, lethargy, decreasing consciousness

  • Associated with stiff neck/rashes over the body/any localised or generalised pain/ systemic symptoms like difficulty in breathing, vomiting, loose stools, pain, etc.

  • There is a known outbreak of a certain disease in the area of your residence

Children and Fever

When your child has a Fever, it automatically becomes a cause of major concern to you as a parent. Children are said to have a Fever when their temperature is above 100.4`F. 

All children with Fever lasting for more than 2 days need to be evaluated by their doctor to look for any focus of infection and start appropriate care.

In children under the age of 5, there is the occurrence of a condition called Febrile Seizures. This is a phenomenon where a child has fits or seizures when they develop a Fever. If a child develops fits in response to a Fever with no other identifiable cause, that could explain the episode of fits other than the Fever itself, it is termed a case of febrile seizures. If your child is running a temperature and has an episode of fits, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible.

Most cases of Fever respond well to simple home measures. If you are unsure of which medication to take, always consult a doctor.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here’s a list of FAQs regarding first aid guide for Fever.

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If I get a Fever repeatedly. What should I do?

It is important to visit a doctor and get a thorough medical checkup in case of frequent episodes of Fever. It could indicate low immune function or inflammatory conditions.

I get a rash when I take paracetamol. Can I still take it for Fever?

Getting a rash after taking a tablet indicates an allergy to that medication. It is best to consult a doctor for further management.

Can I use an ice pack to cool down during an episode of Fever?

Applying ice directly on the skin can cause complications due to a sudden drop in temperature. It is better to use ice-cold water and rely on sponging with a clean cloth.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.

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