When our body is not well, it tries to activate its immune system. One of the most common reactions is a fever. If you have a high temperature, your body is trying to signal that something is wrong. But how does a fever develop and when can it become dangerous? Let’s get to the bottom of these questions.
What causes fever?
As a rule, we humans have a normal body temperature of around 36 °C – 38 °C. The normal body temperature is regulated by our brain. The hypothalamus is responsible for this. This area of the brain makes sure that the body temperature is not too high or too low.
If fever then occurs, it may come from the hypothalamus. The messenger substances that occur during infections or other illnesses can reach the brain and cause the body temperature to rise. The body is confused and has the feeling that 37 °C is too cold and lets the temperature rise. The body does this, for example, with the help of shivering. Because chills are one of the most common symptoms that can occur.
Through the resulting fever, certain processes of our immune system should be activated more quickly and work more quickly. This should then eventually lower the temperature again and fight the infection. This usually takes a few days until you recover from the fever. Here, of course, it depends on how strong and dangerous the infection is.
What temperature defines fever?
In principle, one can assume that one has fever when the temperature is above 38 °C. This is not wrong in principle, but even at 38.1 °C on should not be alarmed immediately. Here we are talking about a slightly raised temperature, which is not further dangerous. Here it is only important to continue to observe the symptoms that develop and the body temperature. With a body temperature of 38.5 °C, a slight fever is assumed. From a body temperature of 39 °C onwards, more symptoms occur, such as chills.
Can a fever be dangerous?
A rise in temperature is not an illness, but also counts as a symptom of other diseases. In principle, fever appears with infections and can then be fought independently. However, it can also become dangerous. At a certain point, even the body’s own immune system can no longer help and needs external support. In addition, from a certain body temperature, fever can lead to the body overheating. This in turn can cause further damage to the body.
When does a fever become dangerous?
From a body temperature of around 40 °C it can become dangerous. The body no longer has control over the infection and the regulation of body temperature. Tissues or organs in the body may be damaged, which can mean long-term consequences. Circulation may also collapse. From a body temperature of around 42 °C, it can also become life-threatening.
Many people probably wonder how fever occurs. There can be many different causes. As a rule, however, an infection in the body is responsible. From otitis media to influenza, a rise in body temperature can occur with various infections
The most common causes of fever include:
- Otitis media
In order for the doctor to make the correct diagnosis and find the origin of the infection, the other symptoms are also very important.
With inflammation or infection in the body, other symptoms occur in addition to fever. Here, the symptoms can be completely different. In the case of an infection in the throat area, you have a sore throat or difficulty swallowing. If you suffer from appendicitis, you have pain in your lower abdomen.
When do you need to consult a doctor?
A doctor should be consulted as soon as the body temperature reaches around 40 °C. Before this, you can reduce the fever with any medication from the pharmacy or home remedies. Then, as a rule, the temperature should drop after a few days. But not only the fever is decisive for a visit to the doctor. Observation of other symptoms is also important. If the temperature increase does not disappear after several days, a visit to the doctor is recommended. In this case, you should not have a fever for more than 3 days.
How to measure temperature?
There are several ways of measuring fever. As a rule, body temperature can be determined with a clinical thermometer or fever meter. There are several ways to do this.
- To the ear
- In the mouth
All measuring methods have their advantages and disadvantages. Some are more accurate, others more comfortable. Find the measurement method you like and try them all.
Children’s fever or baby fever
Fever in children or infants must be treated a little differently than in adults. This is because fever develops much more often in children than in adults. This has to do with the fact that the child is still developing. In addition, the threshold of body temperature inhibition is somewhat lower in children. In newborns, therefore, we talk of a high fever as early as 39 °C. If the child has a temperature of 40 °C or more, it is much more dangerous than for an adult.
However, you can try to help your child with, for example, compresses on the calves or a damp cloth on the forehead. In this way, the temperature can usually be brought down again after a short time and the child can recover. However, always consult a paediatrician if in doubt.
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