Fevers are the body’s way of letting us know that something is wrong. They are also the body’s way of combating viruses and infection. Normal body temperature is around 98.6°F (37°C). If the body has a fever, the temperature will steadily rise higher than this.
When infections invade the body’s system, toxins are produced. This usually results in a temperature rise. The response by the body is to activate the immune system. White blood cells combat bacteria by raising the temperature.
White blood cells produce certain substances that raise the temperature, sine toxins do not have a very good tolerance to heat. Therefore, a high temperature helps fight these toxins and eliminate them from he body. When we sweat, we are expelling toxins from the body.
Fevers are important and helpful in combating illness, but a person suffering prolonged elevated temperatures should be seen by a doctor. Normal fever is about three to four degrees higher than normal temperature, and if caused by infection, does not usually rise more than this. If the temperature exceeds this guideline, then medical attention is necessary. Brain disorders can occur if a fever becomes too high.
Many illnesses are accompanied by fever, including measles, chicken pox and smallpox. Influenza and the common cold can also produce high temperatures. There are other symptoms that usually accompany fever. These are dependent on the illness, but a loss of appetite is common. There may also be an overall feeling of tiredness or weakness. Chills in the body are also common.
Children and the elderly are often most susceptible to high temperatures. When it occurs, the goal is to not eliminate it, but to keep it at an infection fighting level. Children who are ill and a running a high temperature, but are drinking fluids, sleeping well and comfortable, should be in no danger.
If temperature must be reduced, then all excess clothing and bed linen should be removed. The room should be kept cool, and cool damp cloths should be applied to the body. There are also medicines that can be given on advice from a doctor. Medicines prescribed to reduce these temperatures in children are usually ibuprofen and acetaminophen. A doctor should always be called in the case of persistent elevated temperatures.