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The Facts Behind a Fever

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A fever is a common, natural response that’s produced when there is an infection that the body is trying to ward off. Usually, it is more important to establish the underlying issue that is causing the body to create a fever in the first place than to treat the fever itself. Despite common misconceptions, not all fevers are dangerous and require immediate medical attention.

“Fevers help us fight illness by making our bodies an unfavorable environment for germs,” says Five Star Urgent Care Regional Medical Director Dr. LouAnne Giangreco. “The body starts trying to generate heat through shivering and wanting to get warm to try to reach a higher temperature. So when people develop a fever, they feel cold, not hot.”

A fever is defined as a temperature of above 100 degrees (F) orally or 100.4 degrees (F) in the rectum, in the ear, or on the forehead. Typically, as the fever rises, other more serious illnesses could be the cause of heightened temperatures. There are, however, some exceptions. For example, in the very young, the elderly, those with recent surgeries, and the immunosuppressed, lower fevers are often a concern.

In those who are healthy and not at the extremes of age, it is more important to consider the accompanying signs and symptoms. Fevers reaching 104 degrees (F) and higher in older children and adults should trigger evaluation even in the absence of other symptoms.

Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used to reduce a fever when patients are also feeling uncomfortable from a headache, body aches or fatigue, but most importantly it is to establish the underlying cause of the fever itself.

Responding to the Research: Your Top Health Questions Answered

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We hear the results of new medical studies daily in the news. With a never-ending supply of health information, consumers can be left guessing if they should change their daily habits and lifestyles based upon the new medical information. Five Star has cleared up the confusion surrounding three of these recent news reports.

  1. E-cigarettes have been making waves in the health world for some time. A recent report in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly reported an increase in e-cigarette usage in middle school and high school students. In middle school students, usage increased from 120,000 to 450,000 students with an even bigger spike among high school students reporting an increase of 660,000 to two million. E-cigarettes are harmful to youth as nicotine can affect brain development, promote addiction and lead to sustained tobacco use. Talk to your kids about the dangers of using E-cigarettes.
  1. Shifting to traditional wisdom, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” has been a staple of nearly every home growing up, but does it really keep diseases and other medical conditions at bay? A recent JAMA Internal Medicine article provided no statistically significant evidence that people who eat more apples have less doctor’s visits, however, these individuals appeared to use less prescription medications. Even though there is not a decrease in doctor’s visits, apples are a healthy, low calorie food that provides soluble fiber and potassium. If you love eating an apple a day, we encourage you to keep it up.
  1. In a study in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, researchers looked at the potential impact of exposure to bleach in the home among more than 9000 children between the ages of 6 and 12. In this study, it was found that the risk of one episode of flu in the previous year was 20% higher and recurrent tonsillitis 35% higher among children whose parents used bleach to clean the home at least once a week. Similarly, the risk of any recurrent infection was 18% higher among children whose parents regularly cleaned with bleach. In this study, it is suggested that the irritant properties of bleach may cause inflammation in the lungs and make it easier for germs to take hold.
    1. Since this is an observational study, it is difficult to draw definitively conclusions about cause and effect. There may be other factors contributing to the increased risk of infection. At this point, there is not definitive evidence to stop regular cleaning with bleach. However, it does help to reinforce the importance of using adequate ventilation and appropriate dilution when cleaning.