What Is a Fever?

Q:
What is a fever?

A:
A fever – also known as a high fever or a high temperature – is not by itself an illness. It’s usually a symptom of an underlying condition, most often an infection.

Fever is usually associated with physical discomfort, and most people feel better when a fever is treated. But depending on your age, physical condition, and the underlying cause of your fever, you may or may not require medical treatment for the fever alone. Many experts believe that fever is a natural bodily defense against infection. There are also many non-infectious causes of fever.

Fever is generally not considered dangerous, but hyperthermia can cause dangerous rises in body temperature. This can be due to an extreme temperature associated with heat injury such as heat stroke, side effects of certain medications or illicit drugs, and stroke. With hyperthermia, the body is no longer able to control body temperature.

In children with fever, accompanying symptoms such as lethargy, fussiness, poor appetite, sore throat, cough, ear pain, vomiting, and diarrhea are important to relay to your doctor.

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.