Fever or pyrexia is not an illness, but a symptom which is characterized by an elevation in body temperature. Fever is a consequence of an underlying condition such as infection. Hypothalamus is the center of the brain which maintains the body temperature to a set point. The normal body temperature varies from 36-37.5°C (97o F to 99o F). When there is an infection, the hypothalamus resets the body to a higher temperature.
Signs and symptoms of fever
Fever makes a person feel very uncomfortable and irritated. The following are the signs and symptoms associated with fever:
- Hot skin
- Body aches
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive sweating
- Feeling dizzy
- Increased sensitivity to pain
Diagnosis of Fever
In most fever cases, it can be managed without consulting a doctor. However, doctor consultation would be required in the following cases:
- A child below 6 months of age has a fever
- A child has a fever that lasts more 3 days
- A child/ adult with fever has a history of cancer, AIDS, or other serious illness such as heart disease.
- A child /adult has a fever after returning back from international travel
- A child/ adult with fever has other symptoms such as behavioral changes, headache, neck stiffness, skin rash, limpness, vomiting or diarrhea.
When you consult a doctor, he would take a detailed history and do a physical examination. If the doctor suspects infection, he may ask you to take few tests. The various types of lab tests for infection include:
- Blood test: White blood cells(WBC) fight infection. Therefore, an increased level of WBC’s is indicative of infection. The normal level of WBC is 4,500 to 11,000 cells per microliter (cells/mcL). Other specific tests for finding out the cause of fever include:
- Widal test for Typhoid fever: Widal test is performed to detect the presence of salmonella typhi, salmonella paratyphi a, b, and c, which are responsible for causing enteric fever. In this test, an agglutination reaction between patient’s serum and salmonella antigen indicates a positive test.
- Test to detect malaria: Thick smear microscope test is commonly used to detect the presence of malaria parasite. In this test, the patient’s blood is collected and made into a thick smear on a slide, which is analyzed under microscope for the presence of parasites. The QBC malaria test is a new, extremely sensitive and accurate test for the detection of malaria.
- Test to detect dengue: ELISA (Enzyme-linked immune sorbent assay) is the most commonly used test to check for dengue.
- Throat swabs: Throat swabs analysis would be prescribed if your health care provider suspects a respiratory tract infection. In this test, a sample of tissue is taken from the back of your throat. Throat swabs are cultured to identify the organism causing the infection
- Lumbar puncture: Lumbar puncture can help in detecting serious infections such as meningitis, encephalitis and syphilis. In this test, a thin needle is inserted into your spinal canal and a small sample of cerebrospinal fluid(CSF) is obtained. This CSF sample is sent for analysis. Indicators of infection in the CSF sample:
- Appearance: Cloudy, yellow or pink color of CSF is indicative of infection.
- Protein: Increased levels of total protein (< 45mg/dL) may indicate infection or another inflammatory condition.
- White blood cells: Elevated WBC’s in CSF indicate infection. Normally, CSF contains up to 5 mononuclear leukocytes (white blood cells) per microliter.
- Glucose: A low level of glucose in CSF may indicate infection.
- Pathogens: Presence of bacteria, viruses, fungi or other microorganisms indicates infection.
Management of Fever
Home remedies to reduce fever:
- Wet towel treatment: This helps to draw heat out of the body and cool the body. This therapy is done in the following way: take a smooth towel or a cotton cloth and fold it length wise. Now dip this towel into cold water. Remove excess water from the towel. Now wrap the cold towel around neck, forehead, and around the ankles.
- Eat healthy food: Eat fruits like berries, watermelon, and oranges, which are rich in vitamin c and can fight against infections. Avoid consuming spicy, fatty and oily foods.
- Drink plenty of water: Fever may lead to dehydration. You can prevent dehydration by drinking as much of water as possible. Certain herbal teas such as peppermint and ginger tea help in reducing the body temperature.
- Have proper rest: Activity increases body temperature. Therefore, taking adequate rest can reduce the fever faster.
Antipyretics are the first drugs prescribed for fever as they reduce the body temperature by directly acting on the hypothalamus. These drugs are given to relieve the symptoms of fever. Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen are the most commonly prescribed antipyretics. These drugs are very safe and effective if taken as per the treatment plan.
Other than antipyretics, your doctor may prescribe you antibiotic, antiviral, antifungal or anti-parasitic drugs based on the cause of your infection.
- Maintain proper hygiene: Wash your hands thoroughly before eating food, after using washroom, after petting animals, and after returning from work.
- Use of sanitizer: Always carry a hand sanitizer where there is no access to soap and water. This will protect the body from disease-causing micro-organisms.
- Avoid touching the nose, mouth and eyes frequently: Do not touch nose, mouth and eyes with your hands frequently as they are the easiest ways for bacteria and virus to enter the body and cause infection.
- Eat healthy food: Consume a balanced diet consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables. This would keep your immune system strong.
Why choose Apollo Diagnostics?
We have the expertise of 34 + years in healthcare. Our labs are equipped with EQUAS (External Quality Assurance System) and loaded with full automated machines to ensure error free reports, with a quick turnaround time, and at an affordable price. For your convenience, we offer free home collection of samples.
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- Fever.http://www.medicinenet.com/aches_pain_fever/article.htm#what_is_the_treatment_for_a_fever. Accessed on 25-9-2017
- Malaria. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/malaria/diagnosis-treatment/treatment/txc-20168001. Accessed on 25-9-2017
- Malaria diagnosis. https://www.cdc.gov/malaria/diagnosis_treatment/diagnosis.html. Accessed on 25-9-2017
- Fever. http://www.medbroadcast.com/condition/getcondition/fever. Accessed on 29.9.2017