When Peggy Lee sang, “You give me fever,” she made a fever sound desirable. Unfortunately, life is not a song. A fever can sideline you for days or signal a worse sickness on the way.

A fever is one of the ways your body defends itself. Just as you have white blood cells to attack infectious disease in the blood; tears, saliva, and mucus protect vulnerable openings where pathogens may enter; and your skin operates as a giant barrier. A fever protects your body by driving out infection. Think of it like a thermostat in your brain that heats up the body to fight unwanted invaders.

Let’s take some time to talk about this important bodily function. A fever is a regular worry as the weather cools. We’ll discuss what might cause a fever and when you should seek medical attention.

How to manage a fever

Your normal body temperature does vary some. It can safely fluctuate between 97 and 99 degrees Fahrenheit, but as you start to creep above 99.5 you’re getting a fever. Fevers often accompany a cold or the stomach bug. A fever can also signal a more serious infection, virus, or reaction to a medication. Sunburn and heat exhaustion also cause fevers.

If you have a fever, there a few things you can do at home to manage your symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these treatments can help you feel more comfortable.

  1. Put a cool rag on your forehead: It may help you lower the temperature of your body. Taking a warm – not hot — bath is also an option.
  2. Take an over-the-counter medicine: You can take an ibuprofen or acetaminophen to try to bring down your fever.
  3. Drink a lot of fluids: If you are sweating or overheated, you should consume more fluids than usual to avoid dehydration.

If your symptoms persist, visit your local FastMed with questions. The flu season peaks around February, but some cases are seen as early as October. That means it’s time to start getting ready to deal with seasonal illnesses.

Treating a fever in children

Fevers are more serious in children. The CDC recommends that any child under 3 months who has a fever should see a healthcare professional.

There are a lot of thermometers on the market these days, and using them by the traditional measures, orally and rectally, seem to work the best. Some doctors are skeptical of taking a temperature in the armpit or using a device to judge a temperature on the forehead, as they are not as accurate. If you use a new device to check your child’s temperature and it indicates a fever, you may want to speak with a healthcare professional or verify the temperature again.

Protecting others when you’re feeling ill

With Peggy Lee on the stereo, dancing over to a loved one might seem like the right move. It’s not — at least not when you have a fever. You need to be conscious of the health of others. You want to keep your sickness away from other people, especially children or the elderly, until a doctor has told you that you are no longer contagious.

As some fevers are caused by contagious illnesses, you may want to stay home from work or avoid social functions. You also want to clean surfaces around the house thoroughly to avoid passing a virus onto others in your home. The flu virus can survive on hard surfaces for up to 24 hours.

FastMed can get you back on your feet 

Your local FastMed is available every day of the year to help you get well. When the cool weather starts to blow in and flu season comes with it, remember you can reach us on the holidays or weekends when many general practices are closed. Often we can get you in and out faster than an emergency room at a fraction of the cost. As an added bonus, with online check-in, you can get diagnosed and be back at home before the needle slides off that old record.