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Fever: First aid/Conditions/Prevention

 Fever: First aid

A fever is an increase in body temperature. It's a sign of infection, and usually the fever itself is harmless. Fears usually do not require treatment, as fevers are usually helpful.

Your body temperature ranges from 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit to 37 degrees Celsius. Your body temperature can change depending on how active you are or the time of day. Generally, older people have lower body temperatures than younger people do.

When the following thermometer readings are generally high, it means you have a fever: higher than 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit) or above 39 degrees Celsius (102.2 degrees Fahrenheit)

  • Your rectal or temporal artery temperature is over 100.4 degrees (38 degrees Celsius).
  • It is best to keep your oral temperature at 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius).
  • It is okay to be a little sweaty if your arm pit temperature is over 99 degrees Fahrenheit (37.2 degrees Celsius is the temperature at which water freezes.
Fever: First aid


Should I treat a fever?

When someone is sick the main goal is to relieve discomfort and promote rest. Treating a fever will not shorten nor prolong the course of an illness.

There are various ways to treat fever in a child.

If your child has a fever, they may not look or feel particularly sick. Treating the fever depends on how much the child is uncomfortable. Some home care strategies that may help include:

  • Make sure your child drinks fluids.
  • Make sure your child is dressed lightly so they aren't too warm or too cold.
  • If your child is feeling chilled, use a light blanket to keep them warm until the chill passes.
  • Do not give aspirin to children or teenagers, as it can be harmful.
  • Don't give an infant any type of pain reliever until after you've contacted a doctor and they've been evaluated.
  • If your child is older than 6 months, give them acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Read the label carefully to find the right dose.

When to seek medical advice for a child

If your baby has a fever, it's important to get medical help as soon as possible.

If you notice any of the following signs in your child, please see a doctor:

  • If a fever doesn't go down after taking medications to lower it, that is called fussiness or an abnormal reaction.
  • If your child is not wetting their diapers for 8-10 hours and they are not crying very much, they may be dehydrated. A dry mouth or refusal to drink fluids can also be signs of dehydration.
  • Stiff neck or a headache
  • Abdominal pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • Rash
  • Joint pain or swelling

If the fever lasts more than five days in a row, get medical help.

Treating fever in an adult

People with a fever of 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.4 degrees Celsius) or higher will generally look and feel sick. The main goal of treatment is to relieve discomfort and help the person get rest.

To treat a fever at home:

  • Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
  • Wear lightweight clothing.
  • If you feel chilly, use a light blanket until the chill goes away.
  • If you are feeling sick, take acetaminophen or ibuprofen as directed on the label.

When to seek medical advice for an adult

If you have a fever, and any of the following signs and symptoms are present, go to the doctor:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Severe headache
  • Confusion or agitation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Repeated vomiting
  • If your mouth becomes dry, your urine may become darker or you may refuse to drink fluids, all of which may indicate dehydration.
  • Skin rashes
  • Difficulty swallowing fluids
  • You may have pain when you urinate or pain in your back.

When to seek emergency care

If your child has a fever after being left in a hot car or involved in another potentially dangerous situation and shows any of these warning signs, seek emergency medical care: Your child may have an increased body temperature. Your child may have trouble breathing. Your child may have seizures.

  • This means that a person has a fever, but is not sweating.
  • Severe headache
  • Seizures
  • Stiff neck
  • Confusion
  • Repeated vomiting or diarrhea can be a sign of a serious illness.
  • Irritability or significant discomfort
  • If you notice any worrisome changes or symptoms, please report them.
Fahrenheit-Celsius conversion table
FahrenheitCelsius
10540.6
10440.0
10339.4
10238.9
10138.3
10037.8
9937.2
9836.7
9736.1
9635.6

How to take a temperature

Use a digital thermometer to check someone's temperature. There are various types available, such as those that use a thermometer that you can hold in your hand.

  • Rectal thermometers are used to measure body temperature in the rectum.
  • Oral thermometers are used to measure body temperature in the mouth.
  • Temporal artery thermometers use an infrared scanner to measure the temperature of the temporal artery in the head.
  • Thermometers that measure the temperature of the armpit and ear are less accurate.

Since mercury can be harmful if it is ingested or comes into contact with the skin, thermometers that use glass have been replaced by digital ones.

When using a thermometer, take care to follow these precautions:

  • Follow the instructions that came with the thermometer.
  • Make sure the thermometer is clean before and after each use. Wipe it off with rubbing alcohol or soap and lukewarm water.
  • Do not use the same thermometer for both oral and rectal temperatures. Get two thermometers and label which one is used for oral and which is used for rectal temperatures.
  • Never leave a child alone while taking his or her temperature.

Rectal temperature (for infants)

  • Temperatures should be measured using a digital thermometer, and a lubricant should be applied to the thermometer's tip.
  • Place the child on his or her stomach or side, with knees bent.
  • Insert the pen tip into the rectum slowly.
  • Wait until the thermometer beeps to let go. Don't move the child or the thermometer while it's inside.
  • Take the thermometer out and read the number.

Oral temperature

  • Take the digital thermometer and place it under the tongue.
  • Hold the thermometer in the mouth for the recommended amount of time or until it beeps.
  • Take the thermometer out and read the number.

The temperature of the temporal artery.

  • Insert the digital thermometer into the forehead. Sweep it across the skin to measure the temperature.

Armpit temperature

  • Take the digital thermometer and place it under the arm, making sure it touches skin.
  • Wait until you hear the thermometer beep to know that the process is finished.
  • Remove the thermometer and look at the number.

Ear temperature

  • Turn on the digital thermometer. Placing it as directed by the instructions that came with the device is the safest way to do this.
  • Make sure the thermometer is held in place firmly until it beeps.
  • Take the thermometer out of the turkey and read the number.g these tips:
Fever: First aid/Conditions/Prevention

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