Medically referred to as pyrexia, a fever refers to temperature that is above 37°C (98.6°F), which is the generally accepted normal human body temperature. A slight increase in the temperature is not really a cause of concern, as it is the body's response to an infection or illness. In fact, a mild fever has a neutralizing effect on the disease-causing agents. While a mild fever may resolve on its own, medical help must be immediately sought, if the temperature is in the range of 103°F (39.4°C) to 106°F (41.1°C). Temperature of more than 107.6°F (42°C) is associated with brain damage.
Normal Temperature and Fever
The average oral body temperature of an adult is about 98.6°F (37°C), but it is quite normal to have a temperature that is 1°F above or below the normal temperature. A person is said to have a low-grade fever, when the temperature is within the range of 98.6°F to 100.9°F. If the temperature is within 101.1°F to 102.2°F (39°C), one has a mild fever.
In case of children, the temperature can be checked orally or rectally. It can also be measured under the armpit. A child is said to have a fever if:
- The temperature is 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, when checked rectally.
- The temperature is 99.5°F (37.5°C) or higher, when measured orally.
- The temperature is 99°F (37.2°C) or higher, when measured under the armpit.
It must be noted that the temperature might vary, depending on the level of activity of an individual, environmental conditions, hormonal levels, etc.
What is Meant by a High Fever?
It is very important to control high temperature as soon as possible and bring it to normal. This is because most of the body's enzymes work at normal temperature. Medical help must be sought in the following cases:
- If an infant under the age of 3 months has a rectal temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher.
- If a child in the age group of 3 -12 months has a temperature of 102.2°F (39°C) or higher.
- If the fever lasts longer than 24 - 48 hours in case of children under the age of 2 years.
In adults, body temperature above 103°F (39.44°C) is considered to be a high fever. At times, temperature rises as the body absorbs more heat than it dissipates. This condition is called hyperthermia. This occurs due to failed thermoregulation, as the body is unable to cool itself by normal sweating.
Hyperpyrexia is a condition wherein the temperature is more than 106.7°F (41.5°C). Such high temperatures can lead to brain damage, and might even be life-threatening. These constitute a medical emergency
If you or someone you know has a high fever, cold compresses should be applied to keep the temperature in control. If it does not subside, consult a doctor immediately.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.