The rise in human body temperature from the normal range that is above 98.6F (37C) is medically termed as fever. One of the most common health ailments also known as pyrexia, fever is the body’s normal reaction to a variety of infections. Fever is an indication that the body is trying to kill the virus or bacteria that caused the infection within the body. Generally, mostly bacteria and viruses can endure the body’s normal temperature. But when there is a rise, it is a warning that the body has activated the immune system against the dreadful bacteria and virus who find it difficult to survive in that environment and hence we get bouts of fever.
Common causes of fever include viral, bacterial or fungal infection, food poisoning, heat, exhaustion, inflammation, typhoid, cold or the flu. Certain health conditions like asthma, diabetes, liver or kidney diseases and rheumatoid arthritis can also be a potential cause of a mild to chronic febrile illness.
Different Types Of Fever
Broadly fevers are classified into acute- if the duration of fever is less than 7 days, sub-acute-if the fever lasts up to 14 days and chronic-if fever continues for over 14 days. Besides, certain types of fever can help in narrowing down the diagnosis such as:
Continuous fever: When fever remains do not shift in 24 hours and variation is less than 1°C, it is termed continuous fever. This is noticed in patients with lobar pneumonia, urinary tract infection, infective endocarditis, typhoid and brucellosis.
Pel Ebstein fever: There are regular ups and downs in bouts of high fever and afebrile periods. Mostly a high-grade fever keepsrising and falling every 8 to 10 days. It is a rare condition reported in patients with Hodgkin’s disease.
Intermittent fever: In 24 hours, this fever is noticed for some hours of the day and the rest of the time, it goes away. The most common diseases causing this fever are malaria, pyemia and septicemia.
Septic fever: A high-grade fever that doesn’t improve with antipyretics is an indication of septic fever. In this kind of febrile condition, patients should be monitored more often to prevent any further deterioration in their state of health.
Cyclical Recurrent Fevers These are recurrent fevers which can last from a few days to a few weeks and can have times when the patient is totally apyrexial. It can be caused by recurrent infection, malignancy or non-infectious inflammatory diseases. Patients with non-infectious conditions like Still’s disease, Rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease can also get these kinds of fevers.
Symptoms of fever vary as there are many factors causing fever. Some of them are:
- Throbbing headaches
- Poor appetite
- Muscle cramps and abdominal pain
Typically, mild fevers are not life-threatening and most of them go away. However, simple and effective measures can be taken to ease discomfort. As fever involves sweating, the patient should drink enough liquids to stay hydrated, eat a soft diet and take rest so that the immune system gets stronger. For severe cases, prescription medications, antibiotics, antivirals and antifungals to treat possible infections may be required under a physician’s guidance.