Human beings are wormblooded animals. Their bodily functions depend on their body temperature, andas the optimal, many people consider 37 degrees of Celsius (or 98.6 degreesFahrenheit). Of course, 37 degrees is not afixed number, and many people live perfectly normal with their temperature slightlybelow or above that number. Slight variations are acceptable, but if the temperaturegoes up for a degree or two, we say that person has a fever. On its own, feveris not an illness, but a symptom than can be associated with many medicalconditions. It simply represents the fact that there is some kind of infection inthe body, and your body is trying to get rid of it.
Chills, on the other hand, areindividual sensations of coldness and shivering of the whole body. When aperson is exposed to cold weather it’s perfectly normal to shiver, becausemuscles start to contract against your will, just to make some heat and warmyou up to your normal temperature. The same thing happens during the fever, orat the beginning of some infections. In that case, chills can last severalminutes or even an hour.
What Causes Chills and Fever
Chills can be caused by manydifferent conditions. Fever, common cold and flu are some of the most commoncauses, but various bacterial and viral infections, such as infections of theurinary tract, pelvis, kidneys, pneumonia or meningitis may also have chills asthe symptom. Malaria and AIDS can also provoke chills in a person sufferingfrom these conditions.
Your temperature may also risebecause of the similar reasons. Infections can always make a person experience hightemperature, especially children. Sometimes, having a fever may also mean thatyour immune system is able to fight the infection successfully. Extremely highfever, recurrent or fever that lasts for a long period of time, however,indicate more serious medical condition and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Ear infections and gastrointestinalproblems can also raise your body temperature significantly. Babies usually rubtheir ears when there’s something wrong, and when you notice that symptom it’stime to take your baby to see the doctor.
Arthritis patients and people experiencingsunstroke can also have high fever, as well as some sunburn patients.
When to Call the Doctor
When the fever is not the onlysymptom, and you experience breathing problems, vomiting, stiff neck,irritability or confusion it might be a good time to consult a doctor. Normally,the fever won’t last for more than 5 days in a row, but if that happens, youshould see the doctor, also.
For very young children, up to 3months old, it’s very important to remember that every temperature above 101degrees Fahrenheit (38.3degrees Celsius) should be taken care of by a medicalprofessional. In children up to 1 year, always watch for persistent temperaturethat last more than 24 hours and call the doctor if that happens.