Fever, what is that?

Fever involves an increase in body temperature as a result of an immune response by the body. The immune response is a healthy response to an unhealthy situation in the body, for example viruses, bacteria or an infection. The body can defend itself better against viruses and bacteria if the body temperature is high, which is why fever occurs. Medicines that are often used for fever include paracetamol, paracetamol with caffeine, sometimes also in combination with propyphenazone.

When does one speak of fever?

A human body temperature normally fluctuates between 36.1 and 37.8 degrees. If a fever occurs, the temperature rises to 38 degrees or higher. A human’s body temperature is usually somewhat lower in the morning than in the afternoon and/or evening. At a temperature of 37.9 there is an increase, from 38 degrees (and higher) there is a fever. If you have a fever, this is usually accompanied by fairly clear symptoms. You often feel shivery and warm at the same time, or you just feel cold. The symptoms of rising fever are usually different than those of falling fever.

Rising fever may cause:

  • Shivering, shaking, teeth chattering.
  • Increased heartrate.
  • Drowsiness, dullness.
  • No appetite for food.
  • Joint pain and/or muscle pain.
  • General malaise.


Decreasing fever may result in:

  • To sweat


Important for fever

In many cases, fever is not a serious situation, but extra care must be taken, especially in small children, the weak and the elderly. The fever must be measured regularly. Please note the following:

  • It is important to drink enough.
  • Pay attention to whether the patient is approachable and lively.
  • Any pain complaints.
  • The height of the temperature.


Tips for dealing with fever.

  • Do not cover the patient (too) warmly, unless he/she is very cold. Extra blankets are not (necessarily) necessary if you have a fever.
  • Covering extra heavily and then letting it sweat out is not good.
  • Someone with a fever should drink enough to prevent dehydration.
  • If the patient feels fit enough, he/she can go outside in most cases.
  • Avoid drafts.
  • Cold baths or cold showers are not wise. Taking a lukewarm shower is better.

If there is a fever and the person with fever drinks well and has no other noticeable complaints, paracetamol may be recommended. Paracetamol reduces fever and also relieves pain. Fever is often accompanied by pain complaints such as sore throat or headache, for example with a cold, respiratory infection or flu-like complaints. Paracetamol for babies and toddlers is (usually) lower dosed than for older children. Consult with a doctor for the correct dosage.

Risky signals with fever

In any case, consult a doctor when:

  • It is difficult or impossible to wake the patient up.
  • If the patient complains of severe pain.
  • Gives the impression of being seriously ill.
  • Stuffy.
  • Have a stiff neck.
  • Is confused.
  • Sees or hears things that are not there.
  • Delirious.
  • Has purple-red spots on the skin.
  • Have a febrile convulsion(s).
  • Have pain when urinating.
  • Does not drink or drinks little.
  • Gets angry or irritated more quickly than usual.
  • Severe vomiting or severe diarrhea.
  • If you have the feeling that something is not right.
  • If there is a fever without a cause being found.


Angry or lethargic?

If a person with a fever appears lively and cheerful, this is a favorable sign. If someone with a fever is drowsy and lethargic, this may be caused by a (high) fever, but it is important to monitor how the fever and illness develop. If in doubt, always consult a doctor. With fever it is not always easy to determine what is wrong with a patient (not even for a doctor) since there can be many underlying causes of fever. In the majority of cases, fever is the result of a simple infection with a virus or bacteria. However, in some cases the situation is more serious. If in doubt, a doctor will want to keep in touch to see whether the patient is recovering or deteriorating. If necessary, a doctor will decide to admit a patient with fever if there is (or appears to be) a serious situation.

How should you measure fever?

Even with a simple cold, the fever can be high. If the temperature is above 40 degrees, it is in any case advisable to consult a doctor and ask for advice. Consultation with a doctor is always advisable for infants, toddlers, the weak, the sick and the elderly. The best and most reliable way to measure the fever is with a thermometer in the anus.

Fever with no apparent cause

It may happen that a patient has a fever even though there is no clear cause for it. The patient otherwise feels normal, but still has a fever. It is also important to consult a doctor.

Febrile convulsions

Sometimes it happens that children have febrile convulsions. A febrile convulsion is in fact an epileptic seizure due to fever. A febrile convulsion can last briefly but sometimes longer than a few minutes. It looks scary but it is often a reaction to a rapid rise in fever. However, a febrile convulsion is a reason to consult a doctor because only a doctor can determine whether more examination and observation is necessary.
This article was not written by a doctor. This information about fever has been collected and only explains about fever. If you have any doubts about the seriousness of the situation with regard to fever, it is wise to contact your doctor.

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