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High Temperatures, Shivers, and Sweating: Pyrexia Demystified

By Dr. Vandana Boobna in Internal Medicine

Nov 08 , 2020 | 2 min read

Pyrexia, more commonly known as a fever, is when a person’s body temperature goes above the normal range of 98-100 degrees Fahrenheit or 37 degrees Celsius. The common symptoms of a fever are sweating, chills, muscle aches, and a loss of appetite. We’ve debunked some of the common myths that surround Pyrexia and have outlined them below.

Why do we get a fever?

A fever is a rise in the body’s core temperature. Your body does this intentionally in order to fight the sickness and to prevent the bacteria and viruses from multiplying. Many people think of a fever as something that’s harmful or bad, but it is, in fact, your body fighting disease.

How long does a fever last?

A fever generally last for few days. The commonest cause of fever is infection mostly viral which is self-limiting, but there are hundreds of other causes as well. Symptomatic treatment is what is required but a close follow up is mandatory if fever persists for long or its severity increases. Though we have unlimited medications available over the counter, self-treatment is never recommended. It is always better to see your doctor if persists longer than 5 days as it may present as a symptom of some underlying disease. Fever with a headache, vomiting or associated symptoms needs immediate attention

What should I do if I have a fever?

If you have a fever the most important thing to do is to rest and drink plenty of fluids. These strengthen your body’s immune system and allow it to better combat the infection. Medications aren’t normally required, but you should contact your doctor if your fever is accompanied by a severe headache or a shortness of breath. Regular temperature charting and keeping an eye on fever patterns helps in diagnosis and treatment.

What steps should I take if my child has a fever?

The first thing that you should do if your child has a fever is to take their temperature. If the child’s temperature is higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.7 Celsius), then you should call your doctor. It may help to bathe or sponge the child with lukewarm water. Don’t use cold water or ice baths as these have been shown to increase the severity of fevers. Finally, ensure that you do not give the child any medicine unless it has been prescribed by your doctor.

Though it is uncomfortable, a fever is your body’s way of combating infection. A fever normally goes away within a few days; you should rest and drink plenty of fluids in the meantime. If your fever does not go away soon, or if it exceeds 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.4 Celsius), you should immediately consult your doctor.