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When to See Your Family Physician About a Fever

When to See Your Family Physician About a Fever

When it comes to body temperature, most people think anything above the standard 98.6°F is a fever — a sign of an underlying illness, like a cold, the flu, or another type of infection. But fevers can happen for other reasons, too, and in most cases, a mild fever is nothing to worry about — probably.

Some types of fevers require prompt medical attention, but knowing what constitutes an actual fever and when to seek medical care can be kind of confusing. In this post, the Triad Primary Care medical team offers a quick overview of fevers, including why they happen and how to tell when it’s time to schedule an office visit.

Quick facts about fever

When you’re dealing with a fever, it can feel like your body is turning against you. But actually, most fevers are an important part of your body’s disease defense mechanism. By elevating your body’s temperature above normal, your body is creating an environment that’s inhospitable to most germs, making it much harder for those germs to survive and multiply.

Fevers begin when your immune system reacts to an infection or other trigger, stimulating an area of your brain called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is responsible for controlling your body temperature, and when acted on by special immune cells, it readjusts your “normal” temperature to a higher level, allowing your body to grow warmer and creating what we feel as a fever.

Most people think fevers are only caused by infections, but they can happen for other reasons, too, like a reaction to certain medical treatments or in response to diseases, including conditions that affect your immune system or organs. What’s more, while it’s tempting to think only high fevers are dangerous, some low-grade fevers can be a sign of a serious medical problem, including some types of cancer.

When to schedule a visit with our team

Initially, you might want to treat a fever at home with plenty of rest and fluids to see if your temperature returns to normal. While that’s usually OK for most mild fevers, there are definite signals that indicate it’s time to seek medical care, such as:

The rules are a little different for children, and it’s generally a good idea to call the office for any fever, especially in infants and preschoolers.

Call the office to be sure

Fevers can be beneficial, but they can also be tricky, and knowing when to seek a medical evaluation isn’t a simple, straightforward process. If you or a loved one has a fever, your best bet is to call our office and describe the symptoms to our team so we can decide if you should come in for an evaluation or if it’s OK to treat the fever at home and monitor your symptoms.

To learn what’s causing your fever and how we can help, request an appointment online or over the phone with us at Triad Primary Care in Greensboro, North Carolina, today.

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