Fever in adults

With a fever, your body temperature is equal to or higher than 38 degrees, measured rectally. Other ways of measuring temperature are less reliable. You don’t have to take the temperature several times a day, once is enough.

What is fever

Fever is not a disease but a symptom. It means that there is a virus or bacteria somewhere in your body that has caused an infection. No treatment is usually necessary because most viral infections clear up on their own. A high temperature is important here. Viruses and bacteria do not like high temperatures and can therefore divide less easily. The result of this is that the body can remove the invading virus or bacteria itself with its own defense mechanism.
Most viruses are harmless and therefore do not require treatment. You can feel quite ill, even though such a virus is harmless. And suppressing the fever with paracetamol does make you feel better, but it does not make you get better.

Risk groups

There are always cases where you have to be extra careful if they develop a fever. This applies to people who no longer have a spleen, where the body can no longer clear up an infection itself and you can only become sicker. This also applies to patients who are undergoing chemotherapy, the chemo makes you weak and your body can no longer handle it all on its own. Patients who have just had surgery should also be careful if they develop a fever, which could mean that the surgical wound is infecting. It is useful to discuss it with a doctor.

Flu

The flu is a real viral infection. There are no medicines to clear up the virus. You can be quite ill with the flu and the only thing you can do is get sick. If you recognize at least 4 of the characteristics below, you can assume that you have the flu:

  • chill
  • cough
  • a sore throat
  • feeling generally ill
  • pain in your muscles and also headache
  • fever

 

Chill

You get chills because your temperature suddenly rises. You often suffer from this before you have a fever. You can recognize chills by involuntarily contracting your muscles, causing your teeth to chatter in bed. This can often be the start of a flu, bladder infection or pneumonia. In a severe case it is an omen of blood poisoning. So if you feel very ill and you suffer from chills, it is advisable to consult a doctor.

Rarer causes of fever

Malaria

If you have been to the (sub)tropics less than 4 weeks ago and you develop a fever, you may have malaria. You have to be tested for this before it can be proven. This also applies if you have taken the malaria prophylaxis correctly.

Overheating

Extreme sun exposure or excessive physical activity in hot weather can cause your body temperature to rise.
It is best to cool down a bit and take it easy.

Disruption of your temperature

This can happen with a concussion or other type of skull trauma or use of drugs such as antipsychotics or an overdose of aspirin.

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