All about fever

Increased temperature is a reaction of the body and not in every case a bad sign. Learn what to watch out for when you have a fever.

Most people suffer from elevated temperature on average about once a year. Some lie in bed with a high fever and feel tired and listless. Nobody really likes fever, but in the majority of cases the "fire" in the body is a helper of the affected person. Because an elevated body temperature helps the organism to fight pathogens. The body’s immune system is activated, so that many processes in the body run faster. This fights unwelcome "invaders" and inhibits their multiplication in our organism. The reason is simple: viruses and bacteria feel most comfortable at the regular core body temperature of 36 to 37 degrees Celsius – higher temperatures, however, are hard on them.

Metabolism is boosted

The thermoregulation center is located in the hypothalamus, which is located in the diencephalon. It ensures that the brain, heart, kidneys and liver always have the same "set point" of about 37 degrees Celsius. In the case of an infection or inflammation, this value is pushed upwards. Now the hypothalamus commands to adjust the previous set point and heat up the body. To reach this new set point, metabolism and muscle work are cranked up and heat is generated. If this happens in a very short time, it manifests itself as chills. At the same time, heat dissipation is reduced: the outermost blood vessels contract so that no heat is dissipated through the skin. Other typical symptoms of fever are sweating, feeling hot, pulse increase, circulatory problems, fatigue, loss of appetite, sensitivity to pain, increased breathing rate, and sensitivity to light and sound. Often cold symptoms such as cold, cough, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing or sore throat are also present.

Since fever helps to eliminate the pathogens, it should not be lowered in every case – except when the temperature is very high. Finding the cause of the fever is usually more effective. Some people develop a fever more quickly due to genetics, while in others the temperature only rises when they are severely weakened – there are two types of fever: "high fever types" and "low fever types". How often and how violently a person suffers from fever says nothing about his or her basic physical condition.

When to see a doctor?

Those who have a fever should take it easy, preferably even bed rest. Drinking plenty of fluids to compensate for the loss of fluids and getting plenty of sleep are also good for you. To avoid a build-up of heat, do not cover up too warmly. When a fever is high, it is recommended to take antipyretic medication and/or use home remedies (see box).

A visit to the doctor is necessary if ..

. the fever rises above 39.5 degrees Celsius.

. the fever lasts for days without any apparent cause.

… the fever recurs again and again.

… additional severe symptoms (e.g. B. Headache, abdominal pain, pain when urinating, neck stiffness, poor general condition) occur.

… someone suffers from a heart condition, diabetes or another serious underlying disease.

… fever develops after a tropical trip.

Fever in children

In children, the fever usually rises much faster than in adults. This often has to do with an increased immune response. If the fever climbs above 38.5 degrees Celsius, a febrile convulsion can occur in children between the ages of six months and six years, which can last up to 15 minutes. Although they look scary, most febrile convulsions are harmless. Therefore, keep calm and lay the child on his side until the attack is over. Consult a doctor if the fever occurs in combination with vomiting, diarrhea, pain or skin rashes. Likewise, a visit to the pediatrician is necessary for infants with fever.

Home remedies for fever

Vinegar compress (calf compress): Mix three tablespoons of vinegar with one liter of warm water. Place cloths in bowl, remove, wring out slightly and wrap around patient’s calves. Wrap a terry cloth around each and put the leg in a plastic bag. Repeat treatment after every 60 minutes, a total of three to four times.

Drink tea: To compensate for the loss of fluids due to the fever and the associated sweating, it is important to increase fluid intake. Elderflower or lime blossom tea helps with feverish colds and flu-like infections – honey is a suitable sweetener

Chicken soup: The effectiveness of grandmother’s recipe has now been scientifically proven: Chicken soup gives new strength to the sick.

Dr. med. Christian Rohrmann

Physician for General Internal Medicine FMH with own practice in Oensingen

What to do when fever occurs?

Be sure to stay home and treat symptoms as needed. Drinking tea compensates for the loss of fluids caused by fever-induced sweating. Linden blossom tea is particularly suitable because it has a diaphoretic, expectorant and anti-irritant effect. High fever can be reduced with paracetamol.

Do children with fever need to stay away from school and adults with fever need to stay away from work?

In any case, it is advisable to stay at home until the symptoms subside completely. This applies to children as well as adults.

For whom is which fever measuring method suitable??

The different measuring methods depend on personal preferences. For impatient or fidgety people, the ear thermometer is suitable because it measures the temperature very quickly.

Fever measuring methods

forehead or temple (infrared thermometer)

Application: Hold thermometer in front of forehead or temple
Duration: a few seconds
Suitable for: any age
Measured value: accurate when used correctly, but influenced by room temperature or perspiration

ear (infrared thermometer)

Application: in the ear by the eardrum
Duration: a few seconds
Suitable for: Children from 3 years and adults
Measured value: accurate when used correctly, replace measuring sleeve with each measurement and stretch ear canal slightly before inserting into ear
Tip: make sure that the ears are clean and do not lie on them for 15 minutes before the measurement


Application: insert thermometer 1 to 2 cm deep into the rectum
Duration: 30 seconds to 10 minutes
Suitable for: any age
Measured value: accurate
Tip: Because of the risk of injury, a thermometer with a flexible tip is recommended


Use: under the tongue while closing lips and breathing through nose
Duration: 30 seconds to 10 minutes
Suitable for: Children 4 years and older and adults
Measured value: less accurate than rectal measurement, so add 0.5 degrees Celsius to the reading
Tip: Do not eat or drink anything for 15 minutes


Application: Clamp thermometer in the armpit
Duration: 30 seconds to 10 minutes
Suitable for: Children from 6 years and adults
Measured value: less accurate than other measuring methods, therefore add 0.5 degrees Celsius to the measured value

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