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Fever is also known as pyrexia, or simply elevated temperature. It describes a body temperature that is higher than normal. Fever can affect children and adults alike. A short-term increase in body temperature can help the body fight off illness. However, a severe fever can be a medical emergency.
Recognizing a fever can facilitate treatment and proper monitoring of the symptom. According to the Mayo Clinic, normal body temperature is typically 37 degrees C, or 98.6 degrees F. What is considered a normal body temperature in each person varies slightly (Mayo Clinic, 2011).
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a child has a fever when a temperature taken orally is higher than 99.5 degrees F, or 37.5 degrees C. An adult likely has a fever when body temperature exceeds 99 to 99.5 degrees F, or 37.2 to 37.5 degrees C. Normal body temperature can vary slightly depending on the time of day (NIH, 2010).
Some reasons for a fever are:
Home care for a fever depends on how severe it is. A mild fever with no other symptoms does not typically require medical treatment. Drinking fluids and making an effort to rest are usually enough.
Take measures at home to address elevated body temperature. This is especially true if fever is accompanied by general discomfort, dehydration, difficulty sleeping, or vomiting. Home care measures include:
A mild fever can typically be treated at home. However, according to the NIH, there are some instances when you or your child should see a doctor as soon as possible. These instances include when (NIH, 2010):
Your physician will probably perform a physical examination and medical tests. This will help him or her determine the cause of the fever and an effective course of treatment.
Go to the nearest emergency room or call 911 if you or your child is experiencing any of the following:
Limiting exposure to infectious agents is one of the best ways to prevent fever is to try to. Infectious agents often cause body temperature to rise. Wash your hands regularly and keep hands away from the nose, mouth, and eye area.
Written by: Krista O'Connell
Published on Aug 05, 2012
Updated on Mar 15, 2013
Medically reviewed on Aug 10, 2012 by George Krucik, MD
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