A fever is not only an uncomfortable symptom, but also a sign that something may be going wrong in your body, according to MayoClinic.com. You may have an infection, autoimmune disorder, tumor, heat exhaustion, extreme sunburn or be responding to a medication or vaccine. Knowing whether or not you have a fever is important in determining if you need to seek medical treatment.
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Check Your Temperature
A normal body temperature is generally 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit; however a fever is not diagnosed until body temperature rises above 99 to 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit, states the National Institutes of Health's Medline Plus. To determine accurate body temperature, you need to use a thermometer. MayoClinic.com states that a fever is not dangerous until it reaches 103 degrees Fahrenheit. However, you should not wait until your body temperature is this high to call your doctor for proper medical treatment.
Mild Fever Symptoms
Certain symptoms are associated with a fever, often depending on the cause. You will know that you have a mild fever if you are sweating, shivering, have a mild headache or are experiencing muscle aches, loss of appetite or generalized weakness, according to MayoClinic.com. In most cases, these symptoms will resolve within three days and do not necessarily require medical treatment. However, if your fever persists for more than three days or becomes severe, call your doctor.
Severe Fever Symptoms
Some symptoms that are associated with a high fever require medical treatment. MayoClinc.com states that serious symptoms associated with fever include severe headache, stiff neck, throat swelling, skin rash, sensitivity to bright light, confusion, vomiting, difficulty breathing, chest pain, abdominal pain or any other unexplained symptoms. In this case, it is best to see your doctor so the cause of the fever can be determined and treated. Further, untreated high fevers can cause dehydration, which can worsen your symptoms.
If you have determined you are running a fever, you should take general measures to keep your fever under control and to improve your symptoms. MayoClinic.com recommends resting, drinking plenty of fluids, staying cool and soaking in lukewarm water, particularly if you have a high fever. In addition, you may take over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen or aspirin to reduce your fever and improve your symptoms. However, ask your doctor if you can take these medications if you have gastrointestinal problems, a history of liver damage or kidney damage. Do not give aspirin to children.