Assuming that you’ve experienced a temperature at some point in your life is not a huge leap, but it is not an illness unto itself. So have you ever wondered what purpose it serves in the body? You have? Perfect…we’ll run you through it!
First thing’s first: what causes a temperature?
A fever is a symptom that occurs when the body’s temperature rises above its normal range of 37°C. While a fever is not usually harmful, it can indicate an underlying infection or other health condition that requires attention.
It is a natural response to infection, inflammation, or other types of injury in the body. When the immune system detects the presence of foreign invaders like bacteria or viruses, it releases chemicals called pyrogens that raise the body’s temperature. This increase in temperature helps to create an environment that is less hospitable to these invaders and promotes healing.
Other factors that can cause a fever include certain medications, autoimmune disorders, and cancer. In some cases, the cause of a fever may be unknown.
When the body detects an invader such as bacteria, viruses or toxins, it triggers the immune response. This response includes the release of certain chemicals known as pyrogens. These pyrogens travel to the hypothalamus, which is the part of the brain responsible for regulating body temperature.
It makes the environment less hospitable for the invading microorganisms, as they often cannot survive at higher temperatures. The higher temperature stimulates the immune system to produce more white blood cells and antibodies, which are crucial for fighting off infections.
A fever can also help to speed up the healing process by increasing blood flow to the affected areas, promoting the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to help repair damaged tissue.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF A FEVER?
Most obviously, a temperature very literally means that you are experiencing higher-than-normal temperatures. This aside, symptoms of a fever can include:
- Muscle aches
- Loss of appetite
In some cases, a fever may be accompanied by other symptoms that are specific to the underlying cause of the fever. For example, if the fever is caused by a bacterial infection, you may experience symptoms like coughing, sneezing and congestion.
WHAT IMPACT CAN A FEVER HAVE ON YOUR HEALTH?
A fever is not usually harmful, but it can impact your health in a number of ways. These can include:
- Dehydration: When you have a fever, your body loses fluids through sweating and increased urination. This can lead to dehydration, which can make you feel even worse.
- Increased heart rate: A fever can cause your heart to beat faster than normal, which can put additional stress on your body.
- Fatigue: When your body is fighting off an infection or inflammation, it can cause fatigue and weakness.
- Discomfort: A fever can cause discomfort and make you feel unwell, which can impact your overall quality of life.
- Seizures: In rare cases, a high fever can lead to seizures, particularly in young children.
How Can You Manage a Fever?
The treatment for a fever depends on the underlying cause and severity of the fever. In most cases, the goal of treatment is to help reduce the fever and alleviate any related symptoms.
Here are some ways you can treat a temperature:
- Rest: Get plenty of it! Rest will allow your body to direct its energy on fighting the infection or inflammation.
- Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
- Take over-the-counter medications: Over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help to reduce fever and alleviate other symptoms like headache and muscle aches.
- Avoid dehydration: stay away from alcohol, caffeine, and sugary drinks, as these can dehydrate you further!
- Seek medical attention: If your temperature is very high or you experience other concerning symptoms, like difficulty breathing or chest pain, seek medical attention right away.
A temperature is not (on its own) severely harmful to your health, but it can be an indicator of underlying infections, or other conditions. Having a thermometer on hand is a helpful way to be able to determine if your body is experiencing a viral or bacterial attack on its immune system.
Before you manage a fever, you have to first be able to identify that it is one. Thermometers are the only way to be able to take a reading of your core body temperature from home.
The technology to be able to measure the core body temperature has advanced significantly over the years. the first practical medical thermometer to read the temperature of a person was invented by Sir Thomas Allbutt in 1867. Since then, we have a plethora of thermometers on the market that are portable, easy to use, with more accurate measurements than ever before! Designed to measure your temperature orally, through the ear, forehead, and sometimes through the rectum, the brief has prioritised accuracy and convenience since its invention.
Interestingly (and not-so conveniently), the most accurate temperature reading is taken from rectal measurement. An oral reading will grant you the next closest reading in terms of accuracy, followed by ear, forehead and armpit. This is because a temperature is most accurately measured through core body temperature, a result that an oral or rectal thermometer will deliver more closely than an external reading.
Ear thermometers are one of the more popular in homes, particularly as it is easy to use on infants and young children. Omron is one such company that produces ear and forehead thermometers across Australia. The company has an extensive range that is suitable for adults and children alike - even babies! An Omron ear thermometer is a digital thermometer that is designed to take accurate temperature readings from the ear canal. It uses infrared technology to measure the heat radiating from the eardrum, which is a good indicator of core body temperature. This thermometer is non-invasive and provides quick and reliable results in just a few seconds. An Omron ear thermometer has features that include fever alarms, a stored history of previous readings, and silent mode.
While a fever can be uncomfortable, it is not usually harmful in and of itself. In fact, a mild to moderate fever is often a sign that the body's immune system is functioning properly! However, in some cases, a fever can become dangerously high and cause damage to organs or tissues. This is why it's important to monitor temperatures and take appropriate measures to bring them down if necessary. Check your cabinets, and make sure you’ve got a thermometer in your home today!
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