What Is a Fever?
You’ve likely heard that the normal body temperature for adults is 98.6 F. However, a “normal” body temperature may vary widely, from 97 to 99 degrees Fahrenheit. Typically, it is lower in the early and rises during the day. The temperature may increase by one or two degrees when it peaks in the late afternoon or evening.
You don’t need to take your temperature often if you’re healthy. However, if you feel unwell or believe you may have come into touch with a disease like COVID-19, you should check it more often. Many people who get the coronavirus have a fever or a higher-than-normal temperature. Most people also experience weariness and a dry cough.
The Myth of 98.6
The mid-1800s was when the 98.6 F standard was created. About 25,000 persons had their armpit temperatures taken by German physician Carl Wunderlich, who found that the average was 98.6 F.
A recent study indicates that the figure may have decreased. Data on temperatures from three time periods between 1860 and 2017 have been analyzed by researchers. The average oral temperature gradually decreased to 97.5 F, down around 1 degree. Age, gender, weight, and time of day had no impact on a person’s behavior.
There are various theories among doctors as to why body temperatures are dropping. They consist of:
- Decreased metabolic rates. For all of your systems to function as they should, your body needs energy. The result is heat. However, since we currently weigh more than we did hundreds of years ago, humans may have lower metabolic rates. Your body produces less heat when your temperature drops.
- Lower infection rates. Infections including TB, syphilis, and chronic gum disease were more prevalent in the 19th century. As a consequence, many people’s body temperatures increased.
- Improved thermometers. We could have thermometers that are more precise than those used a century ago.
Despite recent studies, medical professionals still don’t classify a fever as present until the body temperature reaches or exceeds 100.4 F. If it is lower than that, though, you may get ill.
In comparison to younger individuals, older folks’ bodies don’t react to diseases as well. In elderly persons, fever is less likely to be an indication of serious illnesses than symptoms like disorientation or weight loss. Two degrees over normal temperature is seen by doctors as an indication of infection.
Additionally, fever reducers include over-the-counter medications including acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. If you mistake them for another symptom, such as discomfort, they may conceal a high fever.
How to Take Your Temperature
A thermometer is the only method to tell if you have a fever. Touch testing and skin pinching aren’t reliable. The most accurate thermometers are those that insert into your rectus, but they can be uncomfortable. Thermometers placed in the armpit, ear, or forehead are less reliable. A handheld oral thermometer that you hold under your tongue is favored by the majority of physicians. Use a modern thermometer; avoid outdated glass ones. These are hazardous because they contain mercury.
Before using an oral thermometer, wash your hands with warm, soapy water. Before taking your temperature, wait at least five minutes without eating or drinking anything. Place the thermometer’s tip beneath your tongue. Do not speak out loud. The thermometer will beep after roughly 30 or 40 seconds. It follows that the final reading is prepared. Add that much to your reading as oral thermometer temps are often 1/2 to 1 degree lower than rectal ones. The thermometer should then be cleaned with alcohol and rinsed in cold water once more.
A rectal thermometer could be simpler and more precise to use if your kid is under the age of three. On its tip, apply a tiny quantity of lubrication like petroleum jelly. Place your youngster on their stomach and place the thermometer’s tip into their bottom. Avoid pushing it. After around 30 seconds, when you hear the beep, remove it. After checking it, clean it once again.
When to Call a Doctor
Take lots of water and rest if your fever is between 100 and 102. If you’d like, you may take a fever reducer.
If your temperature is above 102 F and it doesn’t drop within an hour after taking a fever reducer, call your doctor.
Call your doctor to discuss the next measures if you have a fever, cough, or shortness of breath and suspect you may have been in touch with someone who has COVID-19.
If you have any kind of fever accompanied by a strong headache, a stiff neck, throat swelling, or disorientation, you should always consult your doctor. They might be symptoms of a dangerous illness like meningitis or strep throat.
Your doctor may urge you to take your temperature at certain times, such as in the morning or at night, even if you don’t have any of these symptoms. You may make notes on the readings and provide criticism.
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