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Temperature

More information about fever...

Fever in general

Temperature range of the body and fever

The body temperature naturally fluctuates throughout the day. For example, the body temperature is a little higher in the evening than in the morning. Thus, normal body temperature has to be considered as a temperature range. The body temperature ranges, based on rectal measurement results, can be categorized as follows:

  • Normal temperature - body temperature from 36.3 °C to 37.5 °C.
  • Increased temperature - body temperature from 37.6 °C to 38.4 °C.
  • Fever - body temperature from 38.5 °C to 38.9 °C.
  • High fever - body temperature above 39 °C.

What causes fever?

  • Viral or bacterial infections (most common cause).
  • Certain medication, seizures, cancer or autoimmune disorders.
  • Children may get low-degree fever during teething or immunizations.

Usual symptoms of fever are...

  • Increased body temperature
  • Headache
  • Muscle and joint pain.Chills, shaking, shivering
  • Sweating
  • Flushed skin
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Dizziness or weakness
  • With very high fever: Convulsions, hallucination or confusion

However, note that not all of the symptoms listed above may occur or appear at the same time

Detection of fever

Taking the temperature with a fever thermometer is the most efficient and reliable way for you to detect fever.

General information about fever

Your body adjusts its temperature in order to create the ideal environment for vital procedures such as the enzymatic reactions of the metabolism (enzymes need a certain surrounding temperature in order to function). Because of this, the body temperature varies up to 1 °C throughout the day. In addition, the temperature within the body (core temperature) and the surface temperature of the skin show great differences. For this reason, there is no general “normal” body temperature. As a rule, your body temperature always depends on the measurement site and is also influenced by the ambient temperature, by age, stress, duration of sleep, hormones and physical activity.

Glass thermometers and digital thermometers directly measure the body temperature, while ear and forehead thermometers determine the core temperature by measuring the infrared radiation of your body. The ear or forehead temperature reading might differ slightly from the temperature obtained by rectal, oral or axillary measurement with a digital thermometer, even if the latter measurement is carried out correctly. In the course of life, your average body temperature may decrease by up to 0.5 °C.

What is fever?

Fever in itself is not a disease. It is rather a symptom that indicates that the defence mechanism of the body is taking action against invaders causing harm to the body. Among others, viral or bacterial infections and tissue injuries can cause the body temperature to rise. If the body temperature rises above the normal body temperature range, this is called fever.

Fever in children

How should I care for my child during the fever?

You know your child best – you will intuitively know how to comfort your child and make it feel better. Depending on how high the actual body temperature of your child is, there are certain measures that you can take. Here are some tips that might be helpful:

In case of increased temperature (37.6 °C - 38.4 °C)

  • Give special care and attention to your child. Ill children feel better and safer when they are pampered by their parents.
  • Confine your child to bed. Rest is important for recovery.
  • Make sure your child drinks enough. Offer something to drink every 30 minutes.
  • Check your child’s temperature at regular intervals.
  • When your child recovers, you do not need to take any further action.

In case of fever (38.5 °C - 39.0 °C and above)

  • Give special care and attention to your child. Ill children feel better and safer when they are pampered by their parents.
  • Confine your child to bed. Rest is important for recovery.
  • Make sure your child drinks enough. Offer something to drink every 30 minutes.
  • Check your child’s temperature at regular intervals.
  • Only offer light, easily digestible food.
  • Give fever-reducing medicine if needed but only after consulting your GP (general practitioner) or other health care providers.
  • Lukewarm sponge baths may give your child some relief of the fever.

Also consider trying the measures listed below to keep your child more comfortable

  • Do not bundle up your child with too much clothes and blankets. This can result in a heat build-up.
  • Depending on the room temperature, cover your child with a thin blanket.
  • Give your child a lukewarm sponge bath.
  • Maintain the water balance of your child to avoid dehydration.
  • Give medicine in the correct dose if needed. Do consult a doctor before giving medication.

If you feel that your child does not get better despite of all your efforts, it is time to seek out professional medical help.

Should I call the doctor?

It is not always necessary to contact your doctor because of increased temperature or a fever.

You should call the doctor if:

  • Your child is in a poor condition and getting worse.
  • The fever is accompanied by diarrhoea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
  • In case of toddlers under 2 years of age, the fever lasts for more than one day.
  • The fever lasts for more than three days.
  • The fever is reoccurring and relapsing.
  • The fever does not decline in spite of fever reducing measures, such as Ibuprofen or Paracetamol.
  • Your child does not drink enough.
  • Your child has febrile seizures.

Febrile seizures

Febrile seizures are rare. Only 3 % - 5 % of all children, usually between six months and five years of age, are affected by them. In most cases, febrile seizures disappear on their own. Febrile seizures usually have no consequences for the health of a baby and are considered harmless from a medical perspective. Children with febrile seizures are developing without any complication or any kind of damage in their brain. In some families, febrile seizures occur frequently.

It is understandable that febrile seizures appear very bad and threatening while your child suffers from them, especially the first time. It is a tough experience. As a parent, remaining calm is easier said than done.

It is advisable to take the following actions during febrile seizures:

  • Lay down your child on a level, safe place with comfortable pillows if needed.
  • Loosen the child's clothes so it can breathe easily.
  • If there is vomiting, put the child on its side so that vomit does not enter its lungs.
  • Under no circumstances shake the child because shaking may cause further injury.
  • Do not give your child anything to eat or drink as it may cause suffocation.
  • Note the duration of attack – helpful for further diagnosis.
  • Contact medical help as soon as possible.
  • Measure the body temperature.
  • Measures to reduce the fever should be applied.

It is necessary for your child to be examined after febrile seizures to rule out any other medical complications. If febrile seizures occur repeatedly and last longer than a few minutes, your doctor may prescribe emergency medicine for your child. Your doctor will surely explain the uses and doses of the medicine against febrile seizures for your child to you.

In rare cases, a febrile seizure may last for more than 15 minutes or may show other abnormalities. In such cases, the seizure must be terminated with medication.

If in doubt, it is always better to call the ambulance and rush to the emergency room.

Rose rash of infants or sixth disease

Rose rash is typically a childhood disease. Almost every child suffers from it once up before the end of its second year of life. It is a harmless viral disease caused by a human herpes virus. The mode of infection is by droplet, i.e. by coughing and sneezing. A child who suffered from this disease develops a life-long immunity against it. The symptom of this disease is a sudden very high fever lasting for three to four days. Once the fever disappears, rash with small pale red spots appears.

These rashes can spread to the whole body but do not cover the face. After about two or three days, the rash disappears and the infection is over. In some cases, this disease occurs in a subtle form that you may not notice. In spite of the high fever, the general condition usually is little or unaffected.

Rose rash of infants cannot be treated. Only its symptoms could be treated. For example, high fever can be reduced by antipyretic measures. The most important thing you need to ensure is that your child drinks a lot of fluid, e.g. water. To rule out any kind of complications or doubt, it is suggested to consult a doctor.

Fever in adults

How should I care for myself during the fever?

Here are some tips that might be helpful:

In case of increased temperature (37.6 °C - 38.4 °C)

  • Rest is important for recovery.
  • Make sure you drink enough.
  • Check your body temperature at regular intervals.
  • When you recover, you do not need to take any further action.

In case of fever (38.5 °C - 39.0 °C and above)

  • Rest is important for recovery.
  • Make sure you drink enough.
  • Check your body temperature at regular intervals.
  • Only eat light, easily digestible food.
  • Take fever-reducing medicine if needed but only after consulting your GP (general practitioner) or other health care providers.
  • Lukewarm sponge baths may give you some relief of the fever.

Should I call the doctor?

It is not always necessary to contact your doctor because of increased temperature or a fever.

You should call the doctor if:

  • The fever is accompanied by diarrhoea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
  • The fever lasts for more than three days.
  • The fever is reoccurring and relapsing.
  • The fever does not decline in spite of fever reducing measures, such as Ibuprofen or Paracetamol.