Increased temperature – causes, treatment & help

High temperature

The body temperature, as the name suggests, is the temperature of a human or animal body. Normally, this should be between 35.8 ° C and 37.2 ° C in humans. But what if the body temperature is higher? What causes this and how is it high temperature to treat? These questions are answered below.

Table of Contents

What is elevated temperature?

First of all, it has to be defined when a person suffers from elevated temperature and when it begins to develop into fever. One speaks of an elevated temperature if the body temperature has not yet exceeded 38.0 ° C.

If the temperature is higher, one speaks of fever, high fever or very high fever. If the body temperature is 42 ° C, there is a risk of circulatory failure and only 0.6 ° C more will lead to death in the human body (from 42 ° C irreversible protein coagulation).


An elevated temperature is not an independent disease, but merely a symptom of an illness. In most cases, an infection is the cause of the elevated temperature. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an infection caused by bacteria or viruses.

However, there are also cases where an infection is not the cause of the increased body temperature. If you suffer from sunstroke or heat stroke, your body temperature also rises.

A lack of fluids or increased metabolic activity can also be a cause. After an operation, the body temperature can also rise, for example because the body has to adjust to the changes inside the body that have been brought about by the operation.

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Diseases with this symptom

diagnosis & course

The typical and well known "Place your hand on your forehead" says nothing about whether an elevated temperature is actually present.

To get an accurate diagnosis, the exact body temperature must be measured using a clinical thermometer. This can best be done under the armpits, in the mouth or rectally. It is important to make sure that the body temperature differs depending on the measuring point.

The most accurate is the rectal measurement and the least accurate is the measurement under the armpits, although this is the most popular method. It should also be mentioned that body temperature naturally fluctuates between one and two degrees Celsius during the day. Human body temperature is lowest at night and highest in the afternoon.

However, it is often the case that in sick people, the body temperature rises, especially in the evening. A symptom of the increase in body temperature is, for example, freezing or chills. As soon as the elevated temperature drops, people begin to sweat so that the body can cool down (perspiration).

To find the cause of the increased body temperature, however, a visit to the doctor is required.


An elevated temperature in children and adults can lead to a further increase in body temperature, which can result in mild to massive complications.

With every degree of fever temperature, the heartbeat increases by approximately 10 beats per minute. If there is a high fever in the further course, rapid heartbeat can develop. As a result, the respiratory rate also increases. Chills, caused by extreme muscle contraction, also occur as a complication with very high fever. Cold hands and feet caused by a shift in the body’s temperature regulation can often be observed. In the same context, this also applies to a reduced capillary refill. This can be seen from the fact that whitish marks do not directly recede due to pressure on the skin.

A lack of fluids due to excessive sweating all over the body and too little drinking can also lead to dehydration (lack of fluids).

Very high fever can lead to febrile seizures with loss of consciousness and sudden muscle cramps, especially in children. If the fever in adults rises to over 41 degrees, this can lead to denaturation of the cell proteins. If such a high fever is not lowered, there is a risk of fatal circulatory failure. If high fever occurs at intervals, there may be circulatory instability in connection with fever drop combined with dizziness when standing up and possibly also a risk of collapse. This also applies in the event that the fever drops quickly.

Central nervous complications include perceptual disorders, physical restlessness, and confusion. The latter symptoms can develop into a hallucination. Then there is talk of a feverish delusion, also called fever delirium.

When to go to the doctor?

Elevated temperature and no fever yet: is that already a reason to go to the doctor? Any temperature deviations upwards must be dealt with immediately?

Basically, it should be said that healthy people, i.e. people without a chronic illness, do not have to see a doctor just because of an elevated temperature. An increased body temperature even has a medical meaning: at higher temperatures, the causative agents of infections are eliminated more effectively. If the elevated temperature is suppressed, on the other hand, infectious diseases have a longer course. If you go to the doctor anyway, you risk that your doctor will prescribe a temperature-lowering medication. Other doctors lower the temperature only if the patient suffers from other symptoms, such as a headache.

Patients with organ damage or other chronic diseases are better off going to the doctor at an elevated temperature. For them, the increase in temperature means physical strain that should be avoided if possible.

If you have an elevated temperature for a long time, i.e. more than two days, or at which it has been occurring for a long time, you should definitely consult your family doctor. This is especially true if there are other symptoms such as headache, diarrhea or purulent cough. Here, behind the elevated temperature, there can be a more serious illness that absolutely needs treatment.

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Christina Cherry
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