Fever is also termed as pyrexia. In fever, the temperature of the body rises considerably. Most of the time it resolves with time but sometimes it can point towards a serious illness. Normal body temperature of a human being varies in accordance to the type of work he is doing and the time of the day.
The average body temperature is about 37ºC (98.6ºF)—the lowest being recorded at around 3 am in the morning and the highest at 6 pm in the evening. Normal temperatures in the armpits are about 0.2ºC to 0.3ºC lower than this. When the body temperature rises above the normal, it is considered to be fever.
The term Pyrexia comes from the Greek “pyretos” meaning fire, or from the Latin word “febris”, meaning fever. Fever is generally not considered as a disease in itself but a pointer towards some other disease. The temperature of a feverish person is measured by a thermometer.
The conditions when it is considered that a person has fever are as follows:
Temperature in the anus or in the ear—at or over 38.0°C (100.4°F)
Temperature in the mouth—at or over 37.5°C (99.5°F)
Temperature under the arm—at or over 37.2°C (99.0°F)
Children tend to develop high temperature after vigorous physical activities, but this is not fever. However if a persistent high temperature persists and a person is not feeling well then attention should be given and a person will be said to be suffering from fever.
The main cause of fever is the release of certain chemicals by the immune system, usually after an infection or inflammation.
Other causes of fever include:
Inflammation, from arthritis to trauma to inflammatory bowel disease.
Rare tropical hemorrhagic fevers like Ebola, malignant malaria, etc. It is fatal in 90 % of cases.
FUO, or fever of unknown origin, when the doctor cannot find the exact cause of fever.
Cancer or other chronic diseases.
Infectious disease, like influenza, common cold, HIV, malaria, infectious mononucleosis, or gastroenteritis.
Various skin inflammations, like boils, pimples, acne, etc.
Immunological diseases, like lupus erythematosus, sarcoidosis, inflammatory bowel diseases.
Tissue destruction, occurring through hemolysis, surgery, infarction, crush syndrome, rhabdomyolysis, cerebral hemorrhage, etc.
Drug fever , as an adverse reaction to sulphur drugs, etc
Chemotherapeutics causing tumor necrosis.
drug discontinuation, e.g. heroin withdrawal
Metabolic disorders, e.g. gout or porphyria.
Thrombo-embolic processes, e.g. pulmonary embolism or deep venous thrombosis.
The symptoms of fever are quiet common to us, like
an unusual rash
seizure in small children
Generally fevers are regular occurrences, especially with children, and they are rarely harmful. But if the temperature rises too high, fatal consequences might arise.
Fever can be classified in the following types according to the rise in temperature:
low grade 38–39°C (100.4–102.2°F)
moderate 39–40°C (102.2–104.0°F)
high-grade 40–42°C (104.0–107.6°F)
hyperpyrexia >42°C (>107.6°F)
Generally fevers do not need special medical attention, unless the patient is a child, and the temperature is really high. When an individual has fever, the things that can be done to bring down the temperature and give him comfort are as follows:
The room temperature should be at a comfortable level
Fresh air should be circulating
Ensure the patient drinks plenty of water to prevent dehydration
Give ice cubes to suck
Excessive layers of clothing to be taken off
Paracetamol to be given as tablets (adults) or syrup (children); ibuprofen as tablets (adults) or syrup (children); or aspirin, for adults only. Children under 16 should not be given aspirin.
Hippocrates (ca. 400 BC) had said, "Give me a fever, and I can cure any illness."
Thus it has been often debated and researches have demonstrated that fever has several important functions in the healing process. They are as follows:
mobility of leukocytes increases
leukocytes phagocytosis enhances
endotoxin effects decreases
proliferation of T Cells increase
activity of interferon enhances.