If you think you have a fever, it's best to verify with a thermometer. This also gives you a number to record that you can then pass along to your primary care provider. The average body temperature considered to be normal is about 37°C, and the body does a great job at regulating itself to keep the core around this tempterature. A body temperature above 40°C is considered a high fever and you should contact a health professional.
The symptoms associated with fever range amongst the following:
- suddenly feeling very warm
- having shivers and chattering teeth
- becoming pale or very red
- becoming delirious (this is a red flag and you should contact your doctor)
- with small children up to 5 years old, febrile convulsion may occur
Fever itself is often a symptom of inflammation or an infection such as the flu.
As the immune system attempts to kill the virus and prevent it from multiplying, it raises the normal body temperature to place the virus outside of optimal growing conditions. It's the same mistake many of us make with our indoor plants as we overwater or provide them too little light. The lack of optimal conditions results in leaves wilting or turning yellow. The fever makes it easier for the immune system cells, which are accustomed to working in rising or falling core body temperatures, to rid the body of infection.
It isn't uncommon for chills to accompany fever. These are episodes of feeling cold and shivery despite your body temperature creeping up. Understanding why this happens involves a bit of an anatomy lesson. Inside your brain is something known as the hypothalamus, which for all intents and purpose, can be thought of as the body's internal thermostat. When influenza infects the body, that thermostat is turned up which means the internal heating systems activate to reach the new set point. If the body was comfortable when the set point was 37°C, now we're cold as the temperature is raised to 39°C. So although you are warmer than normal, you feel cold and shivery in the same way as going out in the winter without a jacket on.
Sweating often occurs in the later stages of a fever as the body now attempts to reduce the body temperature. However, with the brain sending conflicting messages about how warm the body should be, this is often why we alternate between feeling hot and cold. No wonder fathers don't like anyone touching the thermostat!
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Due to the immune reaction against germs or various pathogens, a fever may be one mechanism of defense that the body employs. The body temperature may increase rapidly before you feel cold and begin to shiver, a feeling some individuals refer to as a cold fever. While the name may make you think otherwise, do not doubt that this is as true a fever as any. The shivering and shaking are not for nothing as the muscular contractions generate heat and helping to warm your body.
A reminder from day one that flu often has more severe symptoms include muscle aches, a headache, and a fever.. If you want to know whether it's the cold or the flu, do the test!
A fever is completely natural and a necessary reaction of the body as it starts its battle against harmful invaders such as bacteria and viruses. So while a fever is one of the symptoms associated with the flu, the rise in body temperature is meant to create an inhospitable environment for germs and paralyze their activity. Suppressing the fever actually goes against this natural reaction. However, it is customary in the medical world to suppress the fever as quickly as possible with, for instance, acetaminophen. Alfred Vogel used to advocate to see the "fever more as a helper than as an enemy". Thankfully, this opinion is now commonly accepted.
- it persist more than four days
- it is accompanied by drowsiness
- if you cannot drink well or swallow
- if you have a stiff neck
- if you have shortness of breath
- if you are vomiting
- if you have diarrhea
Contact your primary care provider if your temperature spikes after an initial decline. This could be a sign that an infection is developing again or you've acquired a secondary infection while you were weak and compromised by the flu.
With children younger than three months old who are having febrile convulsions, it is also recommended to contact a doctor.
TIP: Head here for more information about a fever with babies and children.
Make sure that the body does not cool off too suddenly as large swings in body temperature can be detrimental to your health and may provoke febrile convulsions.
Make sure you stay hydrated as the fever can induce sweating, which results in a loss of water and electrolytes.
Thin, light clothing will allow body heat to escape instead of becoming trapped.
It is important to optimize the health of the primary organs responsible for detoxification including the intestines, kidneys, and skin. As the body battles influenza or any pathogen for that matter, a lot of toxic by-products may be produced, which need to be eliminated from the body.
Digestive function is imperative to ensuring the by-products excreted through the bowels are fully removed. Everyone has unique requirements and it's worth discussing with your primary care provider to determine the best approach for your individual function. Ensuring adequate hydration and meeting the daily recommended intake of fibre set out by Health Canada can ensure an easy trip to the bathroom.
For kidneys and skin, proper water intake can help keep our cells functioning since water makes up approximately 70% of the cells mass.
Does your child have a fever? Look here for more information about a fever in babies and children.