Although fevers are most often associated with young children, anyone can get a fever and really feel the miserable effects of having a high temperature. The body’s temperature raises when something is going wrong inside the body, but they also serve a useful purpose at the same time.
Here is some information about fevers, including what causes them, why they are important, and how to help a fever come down naturally.
Common Causes of Fevers
Fevers are mostly caused by an illness in the body, possibly resulting from a viral or bacterial infection. Influenza is a common cause of fevers in both children and adults. Heat exhaustion can cause fevers, as well as an inflammation of the joints, such as with rheumatoid arthritis. Meanwhile, other people can develop a fever after receiving a vaccine or after taking medications that are prescribed to treat seizures or high blood pressure.
How High Is Too High?
It is normal for a person’s body temperature to fluctuate a bit during the day, which may prompt you to shed a layer or wrap yourself in a blanket. Although the standard for normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, temperatures between 97 degrees and 99 degrees can be totally normal too.
Any temperature over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit is considered to be a fever. When your temperature gets this high, you may experience shivering, low energy, low appetite, sweating, and sleepiness. But those symptoms typically don’t set in until you’ve reached the 102-degree mark.
A low-grade fever (up to 102.1 degrees) can typically be treated at home with natural remedies. Moderate fevers (102.2 to 104.0 degrees) should be monitored very closely, and anything 103 degrees or over (for adults) warrants a call to your doctor. Severe warning signs to look out for include difficulty breathing, skin rashes, a stiff neck, persistent vomiting, or seizures.
The Dangers of Treating a Fever
However, fevers are not inherently bad and in fact, they are the body’s natural defense against infection. The human body is skilled at protecting itself from disease, and fever is a way to kill off harmful microbes that would otherwise reproduce and create more illness. The leading medical research says that low fevers are actually beneficial, especially for children, because they activate the immune system so that it is ready to fight disease.
How to Ease a Fever
The best things to do when you have a fever are to drink plenty of water, get some rest, and keep yourself cool. In the meantime, continue monitoring the fever with a thermometer to ensure it isn’t getting too high and requires a call to the doctor.
You might try taking a bath in lukewarm water to feel more comfortable when you have a fever, or at least place a cool and damp washcloth on your forehead to cool down. Other people swear by drinking herbal tea, eating spicy foods, and using essential oils to ease fevers. However, it is important to not make your body temperature drop too quickly to prevent shocking your system and becoming even sicker.