fever in adults dr vivek baliga

Fever In Adults

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Fever is an increase in body temperature that can occur for a number of reasons.

Note: If you are reading this and are looking to manage fever in your child, I would suggest you contact your pediatrician immediately.

The normal body temperature is 37 degrees centigrade (or 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Fever is defined as a body temperature that is higher than normal.

Generally speaking, a mild temperature increase that lies below 102 degrees Fahrenheit is not serious. However, a temperature above that is serious and needs some form of medical treatment other than simple first aid measures.

Before we get into fever first aid, let’s look at how to take your temperature.

Measuring Your Temperature

Place a clean mercury thermometer or digital thermometer under the tongue and close your mouth. Hold the thermometer in your mouth for 5 minutes (or until the beeper sounds on the digital thermometer). Check the reading and record it on a piece of paper.

**If using mercury thermometers, do not bite on the thermometer, as this can break the bulb and cause mercury to leak. This can be dangerous. We, therefore, recommend using a digital thermometer at home.

The temperature can also be checked by placing a thermometer under the armpit. However, this is not a very accurate way to measure temperature.

With the passing of COVID, most of us have grown accustomed to using infrared thermometers. If you are using a good-quality infrared thermometer, then you should be able to get accurate results.

First Aid Management Of Fever

1. Check your temperature as described above.

2. If the fever is less than 102 degrees Fahrenheit, then simple measures can help reduce the fever. These include –

a. Apply a cold, wet cloth onto the forehead. This is called ‘tepid sponging’.
b. Take medication like paracetamol (Crocin) on the advice of a doctor. In most cases, this will not be necessary.

3. If the fever is over 103 degrees Fahrenheit, then your doctor may prescribe drugs like Paracetamol, Acetaminophen, or Ibuprofen to help bring the fever down. Aspirin may be prescribed, though not in all cases. These drugs are available without a prescription, but I still advise speaking with your doctor before you take them.

4. Keep well hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Oral rehydration solution and tender coconut water may also be helpful.

Some cases of fever are more serious and require urgent medical attention. The table below discusses this further.


1. Persistent fever above 103 degrees Fahrenheit despite simple measures to reduce it.

2. The patient is shivering and has body pains.

3. The presence of pain, swelling, redness, or discomfort anywhere in the body. 

4. The fever is accompanied by a skin rash or a stiff neck.

5. The patient becomes extremely sensitive to light.

6. The fever is accompanied by continuous vomiting.

7. The patient is confused.

8. The patient experiences a burning sensation when passing urine.

9. The patient feels extremely unwell

10. The patient has breathing difficulty and low oxygen levels.

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