Do you feel feverish but you are not sure about it?
Can’t find a thermometer around to figure it out?
Fever exhausts your body to the point that it is unable to do ordinary tasks such as getting out of bed.
Finding out whether you have fever makes it simpler to recover from how your body is feeling, whether you are feeling a bit warmer than usual or having a sudden round of aches and chills.
A fever occurs when your body temperature rises above 100.4°F which indicates that your body is battling an infection that can be viral or bacterial.
We are now in the midst of a global pandemic with the cold and flu season around the corner.
On average, adults have 2-3 colds every year with children getting it even more which are more common in the Winter and Spring but they can also happen any time of the year.
If you or someone you know is feeling under the weather then checking the temperature will help determine whether medical assistance is required.
Fret not if you don’t have a thermometer with you now, because there are few simple ways to find out if you have a fever.
You most likely have everything you need that is your senses of touch, sight, and taste.
Here in this article, you will learn how to check for a fever without a thermometer, symptoms and causes of a fever, know when to call a doctor and some tips to treat your fever.
What are the symptoms of a fever?
You can check if you have a fever by checking if you have any of the common symptoms associated with a fever.
Here is a list of the most common symptoms of a fever:
- Muscle aches
- Warm forehead
- Feeling of weakness/fatigue
- Sore eyes
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Loss of appetite
- Flushed skin
- Difficulty concentrating
Infants or children with fever suffer from the following symptoms:
- Flushed skin
- Pale complexion
- More irritability than usual
- Difficulty swallowing
- Reluctant to eat, drink or breastfeed
The list of symptoms in severe cases of fever:
- Extreme drowsiness
- Severe discomfort in other parts of the body
- Rashes on the skin
- Urinary discomfort
- Unusual vaginal discharge
There is no accurate technique to identify a fever without a thermometer.
But, certain procedures can help you determine whether or not you have a fever.
9 simple on-demand techniques to check if you have a fever
You can determine whether you have a fever by using some conventional methods of diagnosing fever.
Although it can be less accurate than a thermometer, it is still helpful to make use of your senses rather than wait for the fever to get worse.
1. Pay close attention to how your body feels (Chills/shivering)
If you have a fever, your body will feel chilly and you will shiver because of it even if your temperature is high.
This is because your body is attempting to elevate your temperature in order to address the cause of the fever.
You will still feel cold because of a fever but feel hot to the touch.
You should wear light layers of clothes to help your body heat to escape.
2. Check your skin complexion in the mirror (Paleness and/or flushed cheeks)
If you have a fever, your face will have pink or red cheeks because of the elevated temperature.
Flushed cheeks also happen because of the widened blood vessels called vasodilation that increases your blood flow to the skin.
Your skin will also look pale and tired because of the decreased blood flow and oxygen or the reduction in the amount of red blood cells.
Check for redness or purpleness in your cheeks and paleness in your face by looking in the mirror for evidence.
3. Move your body (Fatigue/muscle aches/headaches)
Check your energy levels and strength by doing a routine activity like going up the staircase or going to the grocery store.
Fever can make you feel extremely lethargic and sleepy.
If you are having difficulty staying awake and would prefer to lie in bed and are moving slowly with slow speech then you have a fever.
If you find these routine activities more tiring than usual with muscle aches then it could mean that you have landed yourself a fever.
That’s because a fever causes aches and pains, as well as symptoms of overall weakness or fatigue.
Body aches are frequently associated with viruses such as the flu or the common cold as a result of inflammation caused by the body’s immune response to the virus.
Take notice if you feel unusually sore, as if you recently worked out, or inquire if any portion of your loved one’s body hurts.
A fever can also cause you to have a throbbing headache.
If you begin to feel like your head is aching then this could be a sign of an incoming illness.
Headaches cannot be used to diagnose a fever or illness, but if you havemore than one symptom, then it is very likely that you have a fever.
4. Let someone else check your forehead/chest/back (Heated temperature)
Touch is the most popular method of checking for fever but it is also least precise because it is subjective in nature.
Letting someone else feel your forehead with the back of their hand is the most frequent and common method of diagnosing a fever
Although it is not accurate, it can still provide general information.
It will be difficult to self-diagnose whether you have a fever or not since your entire body will be hot and so it is better to seek assistance.
If you have a fever then your forehead will be quite hotter than usual.
Ask someone to feel your forehead temperature by using the back of their hand because it is the most temperature-sensitive.
To improve precision, make sure they touch their own skin first and then yours to compare the two temperatures to diagnose whether you have a fever or not.
After you are checked, make sure they cleanse their hand to be safe than sorry as viral fevers are contagious.
Using the method of touch provides you with a qualitative response rather than a quantitative one.
5. Pinch your hand (Dehydration)
Fever increases metabolism which means you burn through water and other fluids quicker.
Signs of dehydration include: dark urine, dry mouth, headache and thirst which can imply that you have a fever especially if you’re drinking water but are still experiencing these symptoms.
You can check if you are dehydrated by pinching your skin on the back of your hand.
If you are sufficiently hydrated then your skin will immediately return to its original position but if you are dehydrated then it will move slowly which indicates you have a fever.
This approach is not accurate as fever is not always accompanied by dehydration but it is useful to know whether you are dehydrated or not.
Fever also causes sweating which is your body’s effort to regulate temperature and cool down.
Large quantity of fluid is lost by sweating when you have a high temperature which is problematic if you don’t drink water which increases dehydration.
Other indicators of dehydration are to look for dry mouth, confusion and extreme thirst.
6. Check your urine color (Darker shade)
The color of your urine will help determine whether you have a fever or not.
Fever dehydrates your body causing it to produce less pee than usual.
This results in a highly concentrated urine that is dark yellow or orange in color with an odor.
Take a look at your pee color in the toilet after you pee to check for dehydration and fever.
7. Examine your appetite and mood (Loss of appetite and irritability)
If you have a fever, food will be the last thing on your mind.
When you are sick, the last thing you want to do is eat, especially if you feel nauseated.
Take note if you are feeling less hungry than usual or if your loved one is refusing their favorite foods as this could be a sign of a fever.
You will experience shifts in your mood like feeling grumpy or sad because of the macrophages in your body that are combating the infection and releasing cytokines.
These cytokines influence areas of your brain that deal with emotions and cognition.
So, check if you feel irritated than usual and your appetite level.
8. Ask around to check with others (Understand your environment)
Before you think that it is you who is feeling warm or having the chills, check in with others around you to see whether they are feeling the same way or can suggest other causes.
For example, the temperature of your surroundings could be set lower than normal or that a hot beverage warmed you up.
So, be sure to ask around before thinking the rise in temperature of your body is due to an incoming fever.
9. Smartphone applications (Measure body temperature)
With the ongoing pandemic, it is important to check your body temperature.
How can you do that without a thermometer?
Well, almost most of us own a smartphone in the current digital era where developers have created body temperature applications for smartphones:
- Smart Thermometer: This application can help check your body temperature in regular intervals. It also helps create a temperature history chart which will help you and your physician analyze your temperature trend.
- iCelsius: Your smartphone becomes a multi-purpose thermometer with this application. This application records your temperature in a graph and works if you have a temperature sensor in your device.
You will need to have a temperature sensor in your device for these body-temperature sensitive applications to work efficiently.
There is no clear proof that body-temperature sensitive applications are accurate but there are applications that can measure your surroundings like the humidity level and temperature.
You can try this method as a last resort after trying all the other methods that involve your senses.
What are the causes of getting a fever?
Most of the fevers are caused by infections which trigger your body’s natural defenses.
Your body’s temperature rises to fight off harmful bacteria or viruses
Types of infection that can produce a fever include:
- Lower respiratory tract infections
- Skin infections
- Gastrointestinal infections
- Urinary tract infections
- Upper respiratory tract infections like the flu or cold
Other health issues that lead to a fever include:
- Physical exertion
- Chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis
- Response to certain drugs
- Cancerous growths
Early symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- Dry cough
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of appetite
Severe symptoms of COVID-19 are:
- Difficulty breathing
- Blue lips
- Persistent chest pain
- Confusion or changes in consciousness
Is a thermometer necessary to check your fever?
Your body temperature will naturally fluctuate throughout the day.
The only way to be certain you have a fever is to check your temperature with a thermometer.
Your doctor will clinically diagnose you have a fever if your temperature is above 100.4°F which can be confirmed using a thermometer.
Not only using a thermometer will make the process of checking your temperature simpler and more accurate but you also need to constantly monitor your body temperature when treating fever.
Can you have a fever without a temperature?
Without having a temperature, you cannot have a fever as a higher body temperature indicates a fever.
The general range of normal temperature for most of us is 98.6 but it is slightly different from person to person.
Your odds of correctly determining whether or not you have a temperature without a thermometer are mediocre at best.
What does your body temperature mean?
A normal body temperature can range from 97°F to 99°F.
There is no exact “normal” body temperature and it is more realistic to characterize a normal body temperature as a range based on your age, the time of day, and how active you are.
Temperature can fluctuate amongst people, where some family members are constantly warmer than others.
A temperature of 102.2°F (39°C) or above is considered a high fever in adults and children over the age of 3 months.
If your rectal temperature is 100.4°F (38°C) or your oral temperature is 100°F (37.8°C), you have a fever.
If your child is between the ages of 3 months and 3 years old with a temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) -102.2°F (39°C), seek immediate medical help as fevers in young children can be fatal.
Children are slightly warmer than older adults because of their fast metabolism at a younger age whereas older adults have a lower body temperature.
A temperature greater than 104°F (40°C) or less than 95°F (35°C) is a cause for alarm in anyone and if this is the case, seek emergency medical attention.
Exercise, hydration, and clothing all have an impact on your daytime temperature.
Your typical temperature could be lower in the early morning and higher in late afternoon.
Hot or cold food and beverages will impact your oral temperature reading so you should measure your oral temperature at least 20 minutes after eating or drinking anything.
Even if you’re feeling chilly, don’t add extra layers of clothes since it will boost your body temperature by trapping body heat.
Lightweight clothes and bed covers are ideal to help heat from your body escape.
When should you seek medical assistance for a fever?
It is more important to monitor your fever symptoms and intensity than it is to monitor your particular temperature.
It is the health of your body that is more important than the height of it.
For example, children with high fevers but have no symptoms will not require medical attention.
However, if you have a mild temperature with serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing and feelings of disorientation then you should consult your doctor.
If any of the following situations occur, then you will need to pay a visit to your doctor:
- If you have been exposed to COVID-19, having severe pain or swelling signs and a fever
- If adults with fevers exceed 103°F (40°C)
- If infants under 3 months of age have their rectal temperature rise above 100.4° F (38° C)
- If your fever lasts for more than 48 hours and your health condition is deteriorating over time
- If you see that your fever and symptoms are not getting better even after taking a good amount of rest and proper medication
- If you are shivering and shaking without control or your teeth are chattering
- If you are heated but are not sweating
- If you experience unusual symptoms like neck stiffness, chills, rapid heart rate and muscle spasms
It is best to consult with your doctor for further guidance, diagnosis and treatment.
How can you treat your fever?
If you notice that you or anyone you know have symptoms of COVID-19, then it is best to stay at home away from other people and if there are people nearby then cover your face with a mask and call your doctor for further medical health guidance.
If your fever comes from a viral infection then you can ride it out as it will get resolved with rest but, if your fever is bothering you then here are some tips to treat it.
Some tips to treat a fever include:
- Increase your fluid intake
Replacing lost fluids is important as water is lost when your body raises its temperature through sweating. Water is usually the first best choice to prevent dehydration, but broth or a rehydration mix like Pedialyte is also useful to replenish your body’s electrolytes.
- Cool off your body
If your fever results from heatstroke or exertion then you will need to cool your body down by sitting in a cool room. You can also sponge your body with lukewarm or cool water as the water will evaporate and cool your skin. If sponging makes you shiver, stop immediately or raise the water temperature. Do not take a cold bath shower as you will shiver which makes your body vibrate and in turn raise your body temperature even higher.
- Avoid the heat
Keep the room temperature cool and replace bulkier cloth materials with lighter, breathable fabrics. Use a sheet or a thin blanket at night to help body heat escape.
- Take rest
Physical activity raises your body temperature, so take it easy, sleep and rest while you wait for the fever to pass.
- Try over-the-counter medications
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) help alleviate symptoms of fever. Before taking or giving these drugs to a child, consult with your doctor to ensure that the dosage is appropriate. If you or anyone you know are suspected to have COVID-19 then do not take anti-inflammatory drugs as these will lower your immune response.
A fever is your body’s response to a variety of conditions, including sunburn, illness, and dehydration.
Normally, fever goes away on its own or can be treated at home but if a fever is exceedingly high or low and does not go down after 48 hours then you should consult a doctor.
The most accurate instrument for detecting a fever is a thermometer, however other conventional approaches can help determine a fever like checking the temperature of your forehead and chest/back, feeling the strength of your body, checking your urine color and more.
Many factors, from your age to the time of day, can influence your body temperature where, if your temperature is higher than 100.4°F, you most certainly have a fever.
Home cures and over-the-counter drugs for fever and discomfort can help relieve fever symptoms quickly.
It is also beneficial to get enough rest since it will speed up recovery from a fever.
Get yourself a thermometer because when it comes to your health, there is no accurate alternative for checking your body temperature.