What is a fever?

Fever refers to an elevation in body temperature. Technically, any body temperature above the normal oral measurement of 98.6 F (37 C) or the normal rectal temperature of 99 F (37.2 C) is considered to be elevated. However, these are averages, and your normal temperature may actually be 1 F (0.6 C) or more above or below the average of 98.6 F. Body temperature can also vary up to 1 F (0.6 C) throughout the day.

Thus, fever is not considered medically significant until body temperature is above 100.4 F (38 C). Fever serves as one of the body’s natural defenses against bacteria and viruses which cannot live at a higher temperature. For that reason, low fevers should normally go untreated, unless accompanied by troubling symptoms.

Also, the body’s defense mechanisms seem to work more efficiently at a higher temperature. Fever is just one part of an illness, many times no more important than the presence of other symptoms such as cough, sore throat, etc.

Fevers of 104 F (40 C) or higher demand immediate home treatment and subsequent medical attention, as they can result in delirium and convulsions, particularly in children.



Comments are closed.