A person is said to suffer from high-grade fever, if his thermometer reading crosses the 102 F mark. For both children and adults, temperature persistently above 103 F is a cause for concern and requires medical attention.
Fever or high body temperature, in most cases indicates that the immune system is busy combating an infection. During an infection, the white blood cells of the immune system release certain substances known as pyrogens into the bloodstream. Pyrogens stimulate the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that plays a crucial role in regulating body temperature. As a response to this pyrogenic activity, the hypothalamus raises the body temperature.
High Body Temperature - A Natural Defense Mechanism
Usually, fever associated with common infections, is not a cause for concern. Although the fever may be fluctuating between 102 F and 104 F, taking prescription medicines is not mandatory. The increase in body temperature during an infection is considered to be a protective mechanism of the human body. It is observed that the infectious agents are unable to proliferate when the body temperature is above normal. The excess heat generated helps to destroy the pathogen. In such a scenario, one should allow the fever to pass naturally. However, this is true only when the normal body temperature hasn't shot up beyond 104 F. Also, if you are unable to tolerate symptoms that accompany fever, do not hesitate to consult a doctor.
Factors that Raise Body Temperature
High fever lasting for quite some time can be a symptom of serious illness such as meningitis (brain injury). Some of the most common causes of fever are given below:
Getting diagnosed with an infection, be it of any type and the body temperature is bound to shoot up. The common cold virus or influenza, is often the main culprit behind fever, which also causes body ache. Even urinary tract infection, sinus problems or hepatitis, are responsible for causing high body temperature. Viral infections of the stomach, commonly known as stomach flu can also be responsible for increasing body temperature. Infections of the respiratory tract such as pneumonia and bronchitis that tend to be severe, can also lead to high-grade fever. These respiratory illnesses, apart from raising body temperature, are typically marked by breathing problems and chest congestion. High-grade fever has also been associated with throat infections such as tonsilitis and strep throat.
Eating Contaminated Food
Food that is prepared in unsanitary conditions, harbor harmful microbes and so ingesting it can cause a wide range of infections, the most common being typhoid fever that is typically marked by diarrhea, abdominal pain and rash.
Overexposure to Heat
Although the body has its own mechanism of maintaining its temperature, but when exposed to sunlight , for prolonged periods of time, the body loses its ability to keep its temperature normal. Traveling in hot weather, without taking the necessary precautions can result in high fever.
Side Effects of Medications
Antibiotics or other medications can also cause a rise in body temperature, when not used as directed by the doctor. This often happens when the medicine is taken on a self prescription basis without consulting the doctor. Overuse or abuse of medicines is increasing and is a cause of worry. Even normal dosage of medicines may trigger a fever. In such circumstances, changing the medicine and looking for an alternative drug after consultation with a qualified doctor, may resolve the issue.
Hormonal changes that are prominent during pregnancy can also trigger high body temperature. The doctor may recommend hormonal imbalance treatment to relieve fever and other problems associated with hormonal changes.
High Intensity Exercises
Performing exercises at high intensity for long periods of time, can make a person exhausted and will definitely disturb the normal body temperature. Taking some amount of rest in between workouts, is a simple solution to reduce episodes of elevated body temperature.
Skin infections such as boils can also contribute in elevating body temperature. Unlike chickenpox, boils affect specific part of the body such as the thighs and the chest. Also, in most cases, one or two boils are seen in the affected area. However, the infection is painful as it is not just restricted to the superficial skin but also infiltrates the hair follicles (small pouches below the superficial skin that store the hair root). As a result, the infection that starts as a small red lump, eventually turns large enough to make the nearby skin tissues inflamed. Formation of large boil is due to a bacterial skin infection and if antibiotic treatment is delayed or ignored, body temperature may increase substantially.
Failing to get a good night's sleep or sleeping only for a few hours in a quest to complete job deadlines can also raise the body temperature, temporarily. Insomniacs that often complain about difficulty in sleeping may suffer from high fever during the day.
Persistent fever that does not subside with conventional treatment and is followed by unexplained weight loss and fatigue may signal the presence of cancer. Fever is a commonly occurring phenomenon in cancer patients, especially when cancer has invaded the nearby tissues.
Gout that is typically marked by swollen joints occurs due to excess uric acid levels in the body. When there is too much uric acid in the bloodstream, it starts getting accumulated in the joints, which makes them red and inflamed. The big toe, heels and the wrists are the most common sites of gout inflammation. Aside from joint inflammation, the patient may also develop high-grade fever.
Injury to Hypothalamus
Hypothalamus located inside the brain is the thermostat of the human body. It keeps a check on the body temperature and does not allow it to go beyond a certain limit. Hypothalamic disorders that may occur due to a number of factors, the most common being hormonal changes, can raise the body temperature at night and trigger excessive sweating.
When the thyroid gland, located in the neck area, fail to function correctly, it can raise the body temperature. In thyroiditis, the thyroid gland is inflamed, which may lead to either hypothyroidism (low secretion of thyroid hormones) or hyperthyroidism (excess production of thyroid hormones). The swollen thyroid gland that has been associated with Graves' disease may cause neck pain, difficulty swallowing and low to high-grade fever. Other symptoms associated with thyroid condition may include fatigue, muscle weakness, excessive sweating, brittle hair, unexplained weight loss and loose motions.
This is a rare condition in which the virus fighting cells of the immune system invade the tissues of the body and cause considerable amount of damage. The best example of autoimmune disease is rheumatoid arthritis that often brings high fever.
How to Treat High Fever
Fever above 102 F but below 104 F can be treated in the following ways :
Increase Water Intake
You need to up your water consumption to reduce fever. Increasing water intake is one of the best ways to get rid of infection at the earliest. Drinking water adequately increases urinary rate, which helps to flush off the germs from the body and reduce fever. Drinking orange juice is also beneficial, as it is high in vitamin C, which contributes in strengthening the immune system.
Apply Egg Whites
Applying egg whites on the feet can work wonders to bring fever down in no time. To start with, remove egg whites from 4 eggs and place them in a bowl. Immerse two handkerchiefs in the bowl containing 4 scrambled egg whites. Now, cover the soles of your feet with these handkerchiefs that are drenched in egg whites. Wear socks so that the handkerchiefs do not fall off from the soles. After 20 minutes, remove the handkerchiefs and take the thermometer reading. You may notice a substantial drop in your body temperature. This is because, egg whites suck out the body temperature and prevent high fever from reaching the brain.
Take OTC Medications
Taking OTC painkillers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen is also found to be effective in reducing fever. Both these medications act on the hypothalamus to alleviate the body temperature.
Take Garlic Juice
Garlic has high medicinal value as it displays antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties. So, having a teaspoon of garlic juice 3 times a day can work wonders to reduce fever.
In case, your high body temperature does not go away within a few days and remains persistently above 103 F, urgent medical guidance is necessary to bring down the fever.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.