A fever in adults is generally agreed upon as a body temperature that is higher than normal. This typically means a body temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher. An adult’s normal body temperature varies among individuals and throughout the day – it’s usually lower in the morning and goes up during the day.

Fever in adults can be caused by a variety of factors including infections such as the common cold, flu, COVID-19, or urinary tract infections. It can also be a result of conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune disorders, certain medications, or even as a reaction to vaccinations.

Fever in adults

Usually, a fever is harmless and helps the body fight off infections. However, if it reaches extremely high temperatures like 103°F (39.4°C) or higher, or lasts for more than a few days, it could indicate a severe condition and one should seek immediate medical advice.

Common symptoms with fever include sweat, shivering, headache, muscle aches, loss of appetite, and general fatigue. More severe symptoms like confusion, difficulty breathing, chest pain, severe vomiting, or seizures should be treated as emergencies.

Treatment for a fever in adults usually focuses on bringing down the body temperature and relieving any discomfort. This can be achieved through rest, staying hydrated, and taking over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. If the fever is caused by an infection, antibiotics or antivirals may be required. A physician should be consulted if the symptoms persist or become severe.

Causes of Fever in adults

Fever in adults can be caused by a variety of factors. Here are the most common causes:

1. Infections: This is the most common cause of fever. They can be bacterial, parasitic or viral, and can affect different parts of the body such as the lung, urinary tract, skin, among others. Examples include strep throat, flu, coronavirus, urinary tract infections, and pneumonia.

2. Inflammatory conditions: Conditions such as arthritis, lupus, and Crohn’s disease can lead to fever as a response to inflammation in the body.

3. Medications: Certain medications, including antibiotics, antihistamines, anti-seizure drugs and blood pressure medications can cause fever as a side effect.


4. Heat exhaustion: Prolonged exposure to high temperatures can cause heat exhaustion, which can trigger a fever.

5. Immunizations: Some adults may develop a low-grade fever after getting vaccinations as their immune system responds to the vaccine.

6. Cancer: Certain types of cancers such as lymphomas, kidney, and liver cancer can raise the body’s temperature as well.

7. Other medical conditions: Some medical conditions like blood clots or autoimmune disorders can provoke fever.

8. Hormonal disorders: Such as hyperthyroidism can cause fever.

Citizens are encouraged to consult with a healthcare professional if they have a high temperature, especially if it’s accompanied by other significant symptoms.

Risk Factors of Fever in adults

Fever in adults can be caused by a variety of risk factors:

1. Infection: This is the most common cause of fever. The infection can be bacterial, viral, or fungal, and it can affect any part of the body.

2. Medications: Certain medications, including antibiotics, drugs used to treat high blood pressure, seizure medications, and drugs for psychiatric disorders, can lead to fever.

3. Autoimmune Diseases: Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and inflammatory bowel disease often cause fevers.

4. Malignancy: Fever can be a symptom of various kinds of cancer, including leukemia, lymphoma, neuroblastoma, etc.

5. Severe trauma or injuries: These can also elicit a response from the immune system, resulting in fever.

6. Other medical conditions: Some other health problems like thyroid disease, blood clots, heart valve disease, etc can also cause fever.

7. Immunizations:  Vaccines may cause a low-grade fever in some people.

8. Dehydration and heat exhaustion: Both can cause symptoms of fever.

Other risk factors might include recent travel (particularly international travel), exposure to infectious diseases, and certain lifestyle choices, like heavy alcohol use or smoking, which could lead to immune system impairment, making you more susceptible to infections. It’s always important to consult with a healthcare provider when you have a prolonged, unexplained fever or other concerning symptoms, as it could point to an underlying condition that needs medical attention.

Signs and Symptoms of Fever in adults

Fever in adults can present with several signs and symptoms. It’s important to remember that fever is usually a response of your body to an illness or infection. Here are some common signs and symptoms:

1. Elevated Body Temperature: The most notable sign of a fever is an elevated body temperature. A normal body temperature for adults is typically around 98.6°F or 37°C. A fever is usually considered to occur with an oral temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher.

2. Sweating: As your body’s temperature rises, you may experience bouts of sweating as your body attempts to cool down.

3. Chills and Shivering: Oddly enough, even though your body is heating up, many people with fever can experience chills or shivering. This is your body’s way of trying to raise its core temperature.

4. Headache: Many people with fever experience a headache.

5. Muscle Aches and Weakness: Generalized pain and discomfort in various muscle groups in the body is common.

6. Dehydration: Fever can cause fluid loss and increased metabolism leading to dehydration, which might result in feeling thirsty, dry mouth, and tiredness.

7. Loss of Appetite: Some people with a fever may experience a loss of appetite.

8. Feeling Warm or Flushed: You might have warm, flushed skin.

Remember, fever can be a sign of various medical conditions, including bacterial or viral infection, heat exhaustion, or inflammatory conditions. If the fever is high, persists for more than a couple of days, or is accompanied by serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing, severe headache, chest pain, neck stiffness, confusion, or persistent vomiting, it’s important to seek medical help immediately.

Diagnosis Fever in adults

Fever in adults is a symptom rather than a standalone condition. It’s fundamentally a temporary increase in body temperature, usually due to an illness. Our body normal temperature ranges from 97 to 99 degrees Fahrenheit. Typically, in adults, a fever is defined as a body temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher.

A fever is usually a sign that the body is fighting an infection. There could be various reasons for a fever, ranging from common conditions such as colds, influenza, or gastroenteritis, to more severe conditions such as kidney or urinary tract infections, respiratory infections, skin infections, immunization reactions, certain inflammatory conditions or diseases, reactions to certain medications, cancer, blood clots, or even from heat exhaustion or heatstroke.

It’s often accompanied by other symptoms such as sweating, headache, muscle aches, dehydration, general weakness, or loss of appetite. If a fever persists or is accompanied by severe symptoms such as confusion, difficulty breathing, severe pain, or other worrying signs, it’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention.

Diagnosis usually involves a review of symptoms and possibly other tests to determine the underlying cause. Treatment is generally focused on relieving symptoms and addressing the underlying cause.

Treatment of Fever in adults

Fever in adults is usually a symptom of an underlying condition, often an infection. It occurs when your body temperature rises above its normal range of 98-100°F (36-38°C).

Here are several steps you can take if you’re a healthy adult dealing with a fever:

1. Rest and drink plenty of fluids: Fluids help cool your body down, and they can also replenish any lost due to sweating. Rest helps your body recover from the illness.

2. Non-prescription medications: Over-the-counter antipyretics can help bring your fever down. This group of drugs includes acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil), and aspirin. However, these medications only relieve symptoms, they don’t treat the underlying illness causing the fever.

3. Dress lightly: Overdressing can trap body heat and make a fever last longer. Dressing in lightweight clothes and covering with a light blanket, can make you more comfortable.

4. Cool yourself safely: Taking a lukewarm bath or shower or placing a cool, damp washcloth on your forehead or the back of your neck can help to cool your body.

If your fever persists for more than a few days, especially without any additional symptoms, or if it’s very high (above 103°F or 39°C), if you’re experiencing severe symptoms like shortness of breath, confusion, severe headache, neck stiffness, or pain with light exposure, get medical attention right away as these could indicate a more serious condition.

If you have a weakened immune system or have been diagnosed with a serious illness such as cancer or heart disease, seek medical advice quickly even with relatively low-grade fevers, as these could indicate a more significant infection.

Always remember, this advice is a broad basis and individual treatment may vary depending on the specifics of your illness. Always consult a healthcare professional for medical issues.

Medications commonly used for Fever in adults

Fever in adults can be treated with various over-the-counter medications, and the most common ones are:

1. Acetaminophen (Tylenol): This is highly used for reducing fevers in adults. It’s a pain reliever that works by changing the way the body senses pain and cools the body.

2. Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin): Ibuprofen can help lower your fever by reducing inflammation. It is also used to relieve minor aches and pain due to the common cold or flu.

3. Naproxen (Aleve): Like ibuprofen, naproxen can help reduce fever by limiting your body’s production of certain chemicals that cause inflammation.

Remember to always follow the instructions on the packaging or as advised by your doctor when using any medication. Moreover, if a fever is particularly high or persistent, it is crucial to seek medical attention as it could be indicative of a more serious condition.

Fever antibiotics

Prevention of Fever in adults

Preventing fever can also mean preventing the underlying health issues that cause the fever. The following tips can be helpful in preventing fever in adults:

1. Vaccinations: Keeping up-to-date with your vaccinations can prevent numerous illnesses that can cause a fever.

2. Good Hygiene: Regular hand-washing, especially before meals, can prevent many viral and bacterial infections.

3. Safe Food Preparation: Always wash fruits and vegetables before eating and avoid undercooking meat, poultry, or seafood to prevent food-borne illnesses.

4. Clean Water: Always ensure that you’re drinking clean, safe water to avoid water-borne diseases.

5. Use Insect Repellent: In areas where insect-borne diseases are prevalent, using insect repellent and wearing long-sleeved clothes can reduce the risk of infection.

6. Stay away from the sick: Try to avoid close contact with people who are sick, and if you’re sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.

7. Healthy lifestyle: Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and healthy sleep patterns can strengthen your immune system and make you less susceptible to infections that could potentially cause a fever.

Remember, fever is often a sign of underlying illness rather than an illness itself. Thus, prevention focuses on avoiding diseases that might cause a fever. If you do develop a high fever or one that lasts for more than a few days, seek medical attention.

Please note that these are general guidelines and people with specific health issues should consult their healthcare provider for advice tailored to their individual needs.

FAQ’s about Fever in adults

1. What is considered a fever in adults?
Typically, an adult is considered to have a fever if the body temperature is above 100.4°F (38°C).

2. What causes fever in adults?
Fever in adults is usually a symptom of an underlying condition such as an infection (such as cold, flu, or a urinary tract infection), inflammation, cancer, or after being vaccinated. An injury or trauma that causes damage to body tissues can also induce a fever.

3. What are some other symptoms that may accompany a fever in adults?
In addition to elevated body temperature, other symptoms may be present such as sweating, shivering, headache, muscle aches, loss of appetite, general weakness, as well as certain symptoms related to the underlying cause of the fever.

4. How is a fever measured?
Fever is usually measured using a thermometer. You can use an oral, rectal, ear, or temporal artery thermometer, depending on what you have available and your preference.

5. How should fever in adults be treated?
Generally, if the fever is mild and no serious symptoms are accompanying it, it can be treated at home by rest, fluids to prevent dehydration, and over-the-counter antipyretic drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen. If the fever’s cause is not obvious, you have a high fever, or the fever is persistent, you should seek professional medical attention.

6. When should you seek medical attention for a fever?
You should get medical help immediately if the fever is above 103°F (39.4°C), lasting more than 3 days, or accompanied by severe uncontrolled symptoms like difficulty breathing, severe pain, confusion, or recurrent vomiting. Moreover, if you have recently traveled to a tropical country or been in contact with certain disease vectors (like ticks), it’s important to consult a healthcare professional.

7. Is fever a signal of COVID-19?
Yes, fever is one of the common symptoms of COVID-19, along with cough, loss of taste or smell, and breathing difficulties. If you have a fever and suspect you may have been exposed to COVID-19, you should get tested and isolate yourself from others.

8. Can fever be prevented?
Preventing fever involves addressing the underlying causes. Regular handwashing, keeping your immune system strong through a healthy diet and regular exercise, getting vaccinated, and avoiding close contact with sick people can help prevent infections that may lead to fever.

9. Are there any complications related to fever in adults?
High, persistent fevers can cause dehydration and delirium, and in rare cases, can lead to seizures or febrile seizures. If the underlying cause of the fever is not dealt with properly, it might lead to serious complications depending on the cause.

Please remember, while this FAQ provides general guidance, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider for perfect advice tailored to your specific condition.

And List out useful links from journals for Fever in adults

Fever in adults can indicate various medical conditions ranging from viral or bacterial infections to certain inflammatory conditions.

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30981291/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29528880/

Please note that access to full articles may require a paid subscription or purchase.

These articles provide a good understanding of what causes fever in adults, how it’s diagnosed, and the potential treatments. However, always consult with a healthcare professional if you or someone else has a fever, particularly if it’s high or persistent.

Complications of Fever in adults

Fever in adults can lead to several complications, depending on the underlying cause, duration, and severity of the fever. Here are some of the potential complications:

1. Dehydration: High body temperatures can increase fluid loss through sweating, which could potentially lead to dehydration if fluid intake is not adequately increased.

2. Febrile seizures: Although these are more common in children, adults may also experience seizures if the fever climbs rapidly or is particularly high.

3. Hallucinations: In severe cases, a very high fever can cause hallucinations.

4. Hyperthermia: This is a severe condition caused by an uncontrolled increase in body temperature. It can lead to heat stroke and requires immediate medical attention.

5. Organ damage: Prolonged high fever can potentially lead to serious complications such as heart, lung, or kidney failure, particularly in individuals with pre-existing conditions.

6. Infection spread: If the fever is caused by an infection, not treating it appropriately could allow the infection to spread to other parts of the body.

7. Neurological complications: Prolonged high fever, especially if caused by a central nervous system infection like encephalitis or meningitis, could lead to neurological issues like memory problems, brain damage, and cognitive impairment.

Note that some of these complications are relatively rare and typically associated with very high fevers that are not treated promptly. A low-grade or moderate fever in an adult usually is not cause for immediate concern. However, any persistent fever or a fever that is accompanied by other serious symptoms should be evaluated by a healthcare provider.

Home remedies of Fever in adults

If you’re an adult experiencing fever, there are several home remedies you can try:

1. Stay Hydrated: One of the most important things to do when you have a fever is to stay hydrated. You can drink water, herbal tea or broths to replenish fluids lost through sweating.

2. Rest: Getting enough sleep allows your body to focus on fighting off the infection.

3. Over-the-Counter Medication: Nonprescription medicines such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help reduce fever in adults. However, always make sure to follow the package instructions for correct dosage.

4. Dress Lightly: Overdressing can trap body heat and make you feel warmer. Dress lightly, and layer blankets that can be easily removed if you start to feel too warm.

5. Cool Compress: You can also place a lukewarm cloth on your forehead or the back of your neck. Don’t use cold water as it could make you shiver and increase your body temperature.

6. Follow Good Hygiene Practices: Wash your hands often to prevent spreading or acquiring another illness which could increase your fever.

Remember, these treatments are for temporary relief from fever only and if your fever persists, it’s essential to seek medical attention, as it could be a sign of a more serious underlying condition. It’s recommended to consult a healthcare professional if a fever lasts longer than a few days or is accompanied by other severe symptoms such as vomiting, seizures, severe headaches, chest pain, difficulty breathing, or confusion.

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Last Update: December 30, 2023