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Section I–Common Health Problems - Fever

HealthyLife® Students' Self-Care Guide

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 Section I–Common Health Problems

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Fever

“My temperature
was so high, I felt like a barbeque grill in the summertime. I was too
sick to go to class. It was very frightening.”

Robert
S., NYU

When you don’t feel well and call a health
care provider, you will most likely be asked if you have a fever.


Keep a thermometer in your dorm room or apartment to take your
temperature when necessary.
Use a digital one with disposable plastic
probe covers. Use it as directed.

Glass mercury thermometers are not usually
allowed in dorm rooms, because, if they break, droplets of toxic mercury can
be released.

Signs & Symptoms

Normal body temperature ranges from
97 degrees Fahrenheit to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, with 98.6 degrees
Fahrenheit being average. When you have a fever:

Your skin feels warm.

You may sweat.

Your temperature is higher than
100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Causes

Fever is one way the body fights an
infection or illness. It helps speed up the body’s defense actions by
increasing blood flow.

Body temperature changes during the day. It
is lowest in the morning and highest in the evening.

Other factors that can affect your
temperature reading include wearing too much clothing, exercise, and hot,
humid weather. Also, a female’s hormones can cause her temperature to go up
at certain times of the month, such as with ovulation.

Treatment

If having a fever up to 102 degrees
Fahrenheit causes you no harm or discomfort and you have no other medical
symptoms or medical problems, you may not need to treat it. If the fever
makes you uncomfortable, is 102 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, if you have
other symptoms and/ or a medical condition, such as asthma, or if your fever
lasts more than 3 days, you should seek medical care.

Questions to Ask

With a fever, do you have any of these
problems?

  • Seizure

  • Listlessness

  • Abnormal breathing

  • Stiff neck. (You can’t bend your chin
    to touch your chest.)

  • Excessive irritability

  • Confusion

  • Severe, persistent headache

 
Is the fever 102 degrees Fahrenheit or higher for
36 or more hours?

 

With a fever, do you have any of these
problems?

  • Persistent ear pain or pain in the sinuses (face)
  • Persistent sore throat
  • Pain in the chest with deep breaths
  • Green, yellow, or bloody-colored discharge from the nose, throat,
    or ears
  • Urinary pain, burning, or frequency
  • Redness, swelling, and pain anywhere on the body

 

Has the fever done any of the following?

  • Gone away for more than 24 hours and
    then come back

  • Comes soon after a visit to a foreign
    country

 

Self-Care/Prevention

To Prevent a Fever:

Avoid very hot conditions.

Drink plenty of fluids.

To fight off infections, eat well, get
plenty of rest, and exercise on a regular basis. Also, get recommended
immunizations.

To Treat a Fever:

Drink at least 1 to 2 quarts of liquids
every day. This includes water, fruit juice, etc.

Take a sponge bath with tepid (about
70 degrees Fahrenheit) water (not alcohol).

For high fevers, put cold packs or cool
wash cloths on the neck, groin, and under the armpits.

Take the appropriate dose of an
over-the-counter medicine to reduce fever. (See “OTC Medications for
"Pain relief"
).

Rest.

Don’t wear too many clothes or use too
many blankets.

Don’t exercise.

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6th edition. American Institute for Preventive Medicine
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December 08, 2005