Of all the health complaints that bring patients to the hospital, the most common chief complaint in a developing country like ours, I’ve come to learn, is fever. It also had been a common misunderstanding among patients that fever is a disease. What they do not know is that fever itself is not a disease, it is a symptom for a lot of diseases which indicate disease. Before you ask questions to specialists in-depth regarding your condition, let’s read a little more about fever.
Contrary to common public thought, fever is not just a generalized feeling of heat all over the body. If it is so, that will make the complaint very subjective. Therefore, in a clinical setting, a fever is actually an objective finding of the body temperature in which it rises above the normal temperature of 37℃. Body temperature will be measured using a device called a thermometer which will usually be placed upon your forehead, or inner ear.
As it should be, the first thing a physician will think of when a patient comes with fever is infection. Infection is an invasion of the human body by a virus, bacteria, parasite or fungus of which it disrupts the normal bodily functions. The invasion as such of territory invaded leads to the awakening of an army that will defend the system, releasing a substance that may increase the body temperature. Generally, one might also think that the high temperature may kill the infections.
Infections may enter your body through a lot of ways, known as modes of transmission, such as; droplets, direct contact (touch, person to person), and faecal-oral of which mostly are not seen through the naked eye. Therefore, you might not know when exactly the infection enters your body. However, the evolution of scientific knowledge especially knowledge of virology and microbiology has led us to know of the period known as incubation period – which is the time taken from the entrance of the organisms until the appearance of the first sign or symptom of the disease.
Among the most common first signs and symptoms of infection is; fever. Fever is the elevation of the body temperature from its normal range which is around 36 – 37℃. A temperature of 37.5℃ and above is usually considered a fever. Fever from infection usually occurs as the virus or bacteria invades the body through any port of entry, then disrupts the healthy body cells. This causes the body’s immune cells to detect this foreign matter, produce pyrogens and release it into the blood. As the pyrogens in the blood reach the brain, the hypothalamus in the brain will detect this substance and respond by increasing the body temperature. Therefore, we can be sure that fever is among the first signs of infection.