Fever: Big Deal Or Not?

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thermometer

If you have children, you have to deal with fever, and that can be a bit scary, especially for first time parents.
You’ve probably awakened in the dead of night to find your child flushed, hot, and sweaty. If the forehead feels warm, you immediately suspect a fever, but what next?

Should you get out the thermometer? Should you the doctor, or consider a trip to the all-night urgent care center?

In truth, if your child is generally healthy, fevers usually don’t indicate anything serious. It can be frightening when your child’s temperature rises, but fever itself causes no harm and can actually be a good thing — it’s often the body’s way of fighting infections.

Not all fevers need to be treated. High fever, however, can make a child uncomfortable and worsen problems such as dehydration.

Fever occurs when the body’s internal “thermostat” raises the body temperature above its normal level. This thermostat is found in the part of the brain called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus knows what temperature your body should be (usually around 98.6° Fahrenheit or 37° Celsius) and will send messages to your body to keep it that way.

Most people’s body temperatures even change a little bit during the course of the day: It’s usually a little lower in the morning and a little higher in the evening and can fluctuate as kids run around, play, and exercise.

Sometimes, though, the hypothalamus will “reset” the body to a higher temperature in response to an infection, illness, or some other cause. So, why does the hypothalamus tell the body to change to a new temperature? Researchers believe turning up the heat is the body’s way of fighting the germs that cause infections and making the body a less comfortable place for them.

Source: The Nemours Foundation

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