Hyperthermia, pyrexia and elevated temperatures – these are just different words denoting fever. Typically described as a temporary rise in body temperature, a fever is generally caused by an infection. When one contracts fever, their average body temperature of 98.6° F rises, going up to 100.4°F (37.7°C) or higher. The leading cause of such a condition is exposure to bacteria or viruses. Fever causes include several health issues that may vary depending on your health condition. Some are universal, while others are due to specific triggers relating to your age and activities.
Common Fever Causes
The universal causes of fever, regardless of one’s age and gender include the following:
- Heat Exhaustion When you are physically active in places with hot temperatures, your body struggles to regulate its core temperature. You also lose bodily fluids and electrolytes through sweat. Lack of fluids makes you weak, causing fever symptoms to set in due to heat exhaustion.
- Common Cold A common cold develops due to a viral infection in the respiratory tract. You usually recover in a few days. But if the infection spreads and symptoms like coughing, congestion, and sore throat last longer, the common cold can cause fever.
- Reaction To Medications Some drugs upset the usual balance of the body temperature. They also evoke a cellular response, interfere with heat dissipation, increase metabolism, etc. Such reactions trigger the body’s natural immune response, which causes fever.
- Gastroenteritis Gastroenteritis is when the gastrointestinal organs – stomach and intestines – are inflamed due to rotavirus or norovirus. When your body tries to fight the infection, you experience body aches, poor appetite, vomiting, and fever.
- Strep Throat Strep throat is a bacterial infection resulting from a group of bacteria known as streptococcus. While it is common in children, adults may also develop this condition due to climatic conditions. Strep throat makes eating, swallowing, and talking difficult, and if left untreated, it can progress to rheumatic fever.
What Causes a Fever in Adults?
The following are fever causes you should beware of as an adult:
- Hyperthyroidism The thyroid gland becomes increasingly tender when you have a hormonal imbalance condition like hyperthyroidism. This condition oversupplies the thyroid hormones into the bloodstream, and you may experience a thyrotoxic crisis leading to rapid pulse, delirium, and fever.
- Blood Clots Certain health conditions lead to the development of blood clots in the deep veins of your body. Such blood clots totally or partially obstruct blood flow. They can also break off and travel to the lungs and other parts of the body, leading to infections which is one of the leading causes of fever in adults.
- Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) When bacteria enter the urethra and go to the bladder, you can contract a urinary tract infection. If you leave it untreated, the infection spreads to your kidney, giving rise to symptoms like chills, flushed skin, fatigue, and fever. A UTI is also one of the common causes of high body temperature in a woman.
- Inflammation When any part of your body is swollen, it draws increased blood flow to the infected tissue. As a result, the body’s immune response gets stimulated. The ultimate effect of this condition is an increased body temperature and fever. Thus, inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis commonly cause fever.
- Extreme Sunburn When you stay under the sunlight for too long without sun protection, your skin becomes hot to the touch. In extreme cases, you may even notice red bumps and inflammation due to overexposure to sunlight. When the swelling from sunburn aggravates, it causes fever.
What Causes Fever in Children & Infants?
Infants and children may contract a fever due to the following reasons:
- Autoimmune Disorders The immune system signals a response to fight diseases which may cause slight inflammation. But sometimes, this may happen without reason, and the body may attack healthy tissues mistakenly. Such abnormal immune system activation is one of the intermittent fever causes in children.
- Childhood Vaccinations Children need to get vaccinated for diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough (DTaP), Polio, Hepatitis B, Measles, etc. Such immunisation triggers the body to create antibodies. A natural result of this immune response is continuous fever which typically goes away on its own.
- Exposure To Contaminants Infection is the main cause of fever which children get exposed to when they play outdoors. They are surrounded by contaminants that manifest into fever. Also, infants tend to touch objects around them and insert their contaminated hands in their mouths, making them susceptible to infections and fever.
- Middle Ear Infection Children who struggle with middle ear infection, experience high body temperatures going up to 104° F. The infection causes the formation of yellow, brown, or white fluid in their ears. This condition results in appetite loss, irritability, and poor sleep; and may sometimes progress to fever.
Should I consult a doctor or let the fever run its course?
The decision to get medical attention entirely depends on the symptoms. If you notice symptoms that interfere with your normal functioning and go on for longer, you should get medical attention. After consultation, the doctor will diagnose the cause and provide medication.
How to care for a baby with a fever?
When a baby has a fever, getting medical attention immediately becomes critical. The doctor gives you the required medication. You can ensure to give the same to the baby as prescribed and monitor its condition regularly.
What should I do when I am down with a fever?
You should avoid physically exerting yourself and focus on getting treated when you have a fever. If the cause is a viral infection, you can treat it by resting and eating properly. But in case of severe causes like an underlying condition, you should follow the course of treatment your doctor suggests.
What is the best way to regulate a fever?
Once you know the cause and are taking care, you can monitor your condition with a thermometer. It shows you the temperature levels to understand if the fever is coming down.