Unusually high temperature of the body is defined as fever. It is the body's response to an infection or a disease. Rise in the body temperature is an indication that the something wrong is happening within the body. Unfortunately, high fever in adults can be a symptom of a number of medical problems. Hence, high fever alone cannot be used as a diagnostic tool to identify the underlying condition.
High Fever Vs Mild Fever
The incidence of mild fever is common, and many times not a cause of worry. Mild fever, also referred as low-grade fever, is temporary, and generally lasts for 1-2 days. In case of mild fever, the body temperature never rises above 101 degree Fahrenheit, and generally the fever vanishes without any medical treatment.
On the other hand, people with high-grade fever have body temperature above 104 degree F. It can be a symptom of a serious illness, and the immediate priority should be to determine the cause and bring down the abnormally high temperature. High fever lasting for long periods (more than 2 days) can be life-threatening. Hence, urgent medical attention is a must to avert any further health complications.
As aforementioned, persistent high-grade fever is a cause for concern, and the body may respond in the following way:
- Confusion (Decreased ability to think)
- Fatigue (loss of energy)
- Body Ache
- Dark yellow colored urine
- Bizarre Behavior
- Rapid pulse
Exposure to toxins or an allergic reaction of a medicine can trigger high fever in adults. Other possible causes that are responsible for causing sharp elevation in temperature are given below:
Pancreatitis: This is a disease that affects the pancreas. In this condition, the pancreas are damaged and get inflamed. Pancreatitis is typically marked by severe abdominal pain and fever that rises above 104 degree F. The disease is the result of the digestive enzymes invading the pancreas, which can cause bleeding and serious tissue damage. Pancreatitis worsens gradually and can also damage other organs such as the heart and the lungs.
Meningitis: The membranes that act as a protective shield to the brain and spinal cord, against external force are referred as meninges. When these membranes become inflamed, it is termed as meningitis. Higher grade fever is the most common symptom of meningitis, where the thermometer typically shows a temperature reading above 104 degree F.
Heat Stroke: A heat stroke is a life-threatening heat illness that occurs due to prolonged exposure to the sun. When a person is exposed to excessive heat, the core body temperature increases dramatically and passes the 105 degree F mark. Dehydration, excessive sweating or performing heavy workout routine for a long duration can also cause heat stroke.
Viral Infection: Viral infections such as common cold and seasonal flu are one of the most common causes of high fever in both children and adults. Common cold that is typically marked by runny nose, chest congestion, body aches and frequent bouts of sneezing, usually causes mild fever. However, if the infection is severe, fever can go beyond the 103 F mark and this may be followed by convulsions, chills and a phlegm producing cough. In such cases, immediate medical treatment should be the top priority in order to bring fever under control.
Bacterial Infection: Bacterial infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis affecting the respiratory system are the other factors responsible for causing high-grade fever in adults. Both these respiratory problems make the patient difficult to breathe properly. The patient is likely to cough incessantly and experience chest pain. Bacteria affecting the intestinal tract triggers diarrhea, abdominal pain and indigestion but more importantly, it can raise the body temperature substantially.
Malaria: High fever in adults has also been attributed to parasitic infection that spreads through mosquito bites. Malaria occurs from the bite of Anopheles mosquitoes and people who get this parasitic disease not only suffer from high fever but also sweat excessively and experience, headache and shaking chills.
Application of a cool wet cloth on the forehead is the first aid remedy to reduce fever fast. Medication commonly prescribed to decrease elevated temperature in adults are aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen. These prescription drugs have to be administered every 6-8 hours to reduce the fever. Having plenty of water is one of the most effective ways to combat high-grade fever.
It is observed that high fever (above 104 degree F) when left untreated, reaches the brain and causes considerable damage to the cells. Calling the doctor right away is necessary, so as to find an appropriate solution to reduce fever and other worrisome symptoms.