Fevers can be scary for adults and children alike, especially if you are unsure what degree of fever constitutes an emergency. During the low points of your illness, you may wonder, “When should I go to the hospital for a fever?”
While some fevers can be managed at home, there are instances when seeking prompt medical care becomes essential. In this article, we’ll navigate the complexities of fevers, explore the red flags that warrant a trip to the hospital, and empower you with the knowledge to make informed decisions about your health.
What is a Fever?
A fever, also known as pyrexia, is a temporary increase in the body’s core temperature above the normal range. This elevation in body temperature is a natural response of the immune system to various infections, illnesses, or other underlying conditions.
The normal body temperature for most individuals is around 98.6°F (37°C), but this can vary slightly from person to person. When the body detects an invader, such as bacteria or viruses, the immune system releases chemicals that act on the hypothalamus in the brain. The hypothalamus then signals the body to increase its temperature, which helps combat foreign invaders and enhances the effectiveness of the immune response.
Causes & Symptoms of Fever
The onset of a fever can be caused by various factors, and it is typically a symptom of an underlying condition rather than a specific illness itself. The most common cause of fever is infections, such as viral, bacterial, fungal, or parasitic infections. These can include common illnesses like the flu, common cold, urinary tract infections, respiratory infections, and many others.
Fevers can also sometimes be caused by certain inflammatory conditions, heat-related illnesses, tissue injury, certain medications, and systemic conditions like Lupus.
When experiencing a fever, individuals may notice a variety of symptoms that can vary in intensity depending on the underlying cause of the fever and the individual’s overall health.
The primary symptom of a fever is an elevated body temperature above the normal range. This can vary from a mild increase to a high fever. 103 degrees Fahrenheit is considered a high temperature for adults, and high fevers for children can range from 100.4°F to 102.2 °F.
Additionally, symptoms of fever that accompany an elevated body temperature include:
- Chills and Shivering
- Muscle Aches and Joint Pain
- Weakness and Fatigue
- Loss of Appetite
- Rapid Heart Rate and Breathing
How Can Fever Be Treated at Home
Before taking a trip to the ER for a fever, try treating it at home! Treating fevers at home can help alleviate discomfort and support the body’s natural healing process. Be sure to stay hydrated and get plenty of rest so your body has the energy to continue combating its illness. If you are concerned about your temperature rising too high, take over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen that can help lower your fever and alleviate discomfort.
While nurturing yourself back to health at home, be sure to avoid over-bundling to prevent overheating. Eat lightly and opt for easily digestible foods like soups, crackers, or fruits to reduce the risk of vomiting.
When Should I Go to the Hospital for a Fever?
While most fevers can be managed at home with rest, fluids, and over-the-counter medications, there are specific situations when one should seek emergency care from a hospital or emergency room. Consider going to the hospital for a fever under the following circumstances:
You Have a High-Grade Fever
If the fever is persistently high (above 104°F or 40°C) and does not respond to fever-reducing medication, it’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention.
Young Infant or Child Has a Fever
If an infant younger than three months old develops a fever (rectal temperature of 100.4°F or 38°C or higher), it is considered an emergency, and they should be taken to the hospital immediately. Children between three months and 36 months old with a fever above 102°F (38.9°C) or higher, or those displaying other concerning symptoms, should promptly be evaluated by a healthcare professional.
If the fever persists for more than a few days or worsens despite home treatments, a medical evaluation is necessary to determine the underlying cause.
If the fever is accompanied by severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing, severe headache, persistent vomiting, severe abdominal pain, chest pain, confusion, seizures, stiff neck, or a rash, immediate medical attention is required.
Underlying Health Conditions
Individuals with pre-existing medical conditions, weakened immune systems, or chronic illnesses should consider seeking medical care earlier due to their increased risk of complications.
Medical attention is essential if the person has recently traveled to regions with known infectious disease outbreaks or is exposed to someone with a contagious illness.
Medical care is necessary if the fever is causing a significant fluid loss through sweating, leading to signs of dehydration such as dry mouth, decreased urination, or dizziness.
Get Help From Altus Lumberton Hospital
Your health and well-being should always be a top priority, and knowing when to seek medical attention for a fever can make a significant difference in your recovery. At Altus Lumberton Hospital, our dedicated team of healthcare professionals is committed to providing you with the highest quality care in a compassionate and welcoming environment. Our state-of-the-art facility is equipped to handle a wide range of medical needs, and our experienced staff is here to listen, evaluate, and provide the appropriate treatment tailored to your specific condition. Remember, your health journey doesn’t have to be faced alone. Visit our website to learn more about our service.