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What is a fever

What is a fever

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Published by: ronan_2905 on Feb 18, 2010
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What is a fever?
Fever refers to an elevation in body temperature. Technically, any body temperatureabove the normal oral measurement of 98.6 F (37 C) or the normal rectal temperature of 99 F (37.2 C) is considered to be elevated. However, these are averages, and your normaltemperature may actually be 1 F (0.6 C) or more above or below the average of 98.6 F.Body temperature can also vary up to 1 F (0.6 C) throughout the day.Thus, fever is not considered medically significant until body temperature is above 100.4F (38 C). Fever serves as one of the body's natural defenses against bacteria and viruseswhich cannot live at a higher temperature. For that reason, low fevers should normally gountreated, unless accompanied by troubling symptoms.Also, the body's defense mechanisms seem to work more efficiently at a higher temperature. Fever is just one part of an illness, many times no more important than the presence of other symptoms such ascough, sore throat,etc. Fevers of 104 F (40 C) or higher demand immediate home treatment and subsequentmedical attention, as they can result indeliriumandconvulsions, particularly inchildren.
How should I take a temperature for fever?
Digital thermometers can be used to measure rectal, oral, or axillary (under the armpit)temperatures. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend use of mercurythermometers(glass), and they encourage parents to remove mercury thermometers fromtheir households to prevent accidental exposure to this toxin.
Measuring an axillary (under the armpit) temperature for fever:
Axillary temperatures are not as accurate as rectal or oral measurements, and thesegenerally measure one degree lower than a simultaneously obtained oral temperature.
Place the tip of the digital thermometer in your child's armpit.
Leave in place about one minute or until you hear a beep to check a digitalreading.
Measuring fever by eardrum temperature:
Tympanic (ear) thermometers must be placed correctly in your child's ear to be accurate.Too muchearwaxcan cause the reading to be incorrect.
Eardrum temperature measurements are not accurate in small children and should not beused in children under 3 years (36 months) of age. This is especially true in infants below3 months of age when obtaining an accurate temperature is very important.
Measuring fever by oral temperature:
Children 4 to 5 years old and adults can have their temperature taken with a digitalthermometer under the tongue with their mouth closed.
Clean the thermometer with soapy water or rubbing alcohol and rinse.
Turn the thermometer on and place the tip of the thermometer as far back under the tongue as possible.
The thermometer should remain in place for about one minute or until you hear the beep. Check the digital reading.Avoid hot or cold drinks within 15 minutes of oral temperature measurement to ensurecorrect readings.
Measuring fever by rectal temperature:
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends rectal temperature measurements for children under 3 years, as this gives the most accurate reading of core temperature.
Clean the thermometer with soapy water or rubbing alcohol and rinse with coolwater.
Use a small amount of lubricant, such as petroleum jelly, on the end.
Place the child prone (belly-side down) on a firm surface, or place your child faceup and bend his legs to his chest.
After separating the buttocks, insert the thermometer approximately ½ to 1 inchinto the rectum. Do not inset it too far.
Hold the thermometer in place, loosely keeping your hand cupped around your child's bottom, and keep your fingers on the thermometer to avoid it accidentlysliding further into the rectum. Keep it there for about one minute, until you hear the beep.
Remove the thermometer, and check the digital reading.
Label the rectal thermometer so it's not accidentally used in the mouth.A rectal temperature will read approximately one degree higher than a simultaneously
How is fever treated?
Generally, if the fever does not cause discomfort, the fever itself need not be treated. It isnot necessary to awaken an adult or child to treat a fever unless instructed to do so byyour health-care practitioner.The following medications may be used at home to treat a fever:
Acetaminophen(Tylenol and others) can be used to lower a fever. Therecommended pediatric dose can be suggested by the child's health-care provider.Adults withoutliver disease or other health problems can take 1000 mg (two "extra strength" tablets) every four to six hours or as directed by your physician.
Ibuprofen(Motrin/Advil) can also be used for fever in patients over 6 months of age. Discuss the best dose with your doctor. For adults, 400-600 mg (two to three200 mg tablets) can be used every six hours.
Aspirinshould not be used for fever in children or adolescents.Aspirin use in children and adolescents during a viral illness (especiallychickenpoxandinfluenza) has been associated withReye syndrome. Reye syndrome is a dangerous illness which causes prolongedvomiting, confusion, and evencoma  and liver failure.

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