Fever or Chills: The Fifth Most Common Reason People Call the Nurse Advice Line

We recently published a blog post on the top five reasons people called our Nurse Advice Line across our book of business between April 2021 and March 2022. As mentioned, the fifth most predominant reason people call our Nurse Advice Line is because of a fever or chills. A fever is the body’s normal and healthy reaction to infection and other illness. However, people often wonder if it’s too high or has lasted too long and if they should seek additional medical care for themselves or a loved one.

While it can be scary, particularly with a young child, a fever is normally a sign of a minor illness and is actually the body’s way of fighting off an infection. The cause of fevers is normally either a viral infection, such as a cold, flu or chickenpox, or it can be a bacterial infection, such as a urinary tract infection or pneumonia. Teething or immunizations can also cause a fever in children. The body temperature can also vary throughout the day or with activity, and children tend to run higher fevers than adults.

A fever is a symptom of a disease or illness, so it is important to look at the other symptoms to know if there’s cause for additional medical care. The degree of the fever does not necessarily correlate with the seriousness of the illness. Sometimes minor illnesses, such as colds, can lead to high temperatures, while more serious illnesses only present a mild fever. A low body temperature on the other hand, if coupled with chills, shaking, breathing problems or confusion, can be a sign of more serious illness. Low body temperature may also be a symptom of infection, particularly in newborns, older adults or people who are frail, and can be caused from more serious infections, such as sepsis.

Nurse Advice Line Helps Members Fight Fever

Our Health Coaches are trained to assess all of the caller’s symptoms to be able to make recommendations for whether the fever and related illness can be managed at home or should be evaluated by a doctor or in a more urgent healthcare setting. Babies younger than three months of age should be seen by a doctor anytime they have a fever, as they can quickly become extremely sick. Additionally, if a person has traveled outside the country and gets a fever, they should be seen by a doctor to check for exposure to other diseases. Frequent or recurrent fevers can also be a sign of a serious health problem and should be evaluated by a doctor. However, in most cases, the underlying illness that caused the fever will clear up in a few days and can be treated at home.

Our Health Coaches provide guidance on how to manage the fever, making the person more comfortable and ensuring they’re getting enough food, fluids and are continuing to urinate appropriately. They also provide information on what to look for as signs that the illness is escalating and additional treatment should be sought.

Getting a Member with a Fever the Help She Needed

The daughter of a 73-year-old woman called our Nurse Advice Line when her mother had a fever and chills. She was concerned, as her mother had hip replacement surgery a week earlier and when she had the other hip replaced the previous year, she became septic. The Health Coach reviewed the symptoms the caller’s mother was experiencing and her past medical history. Based on the information, the Health Coach recommended they call the facility where the surgery was completed and take the member to the emergency department (ED) at that hospital.

On a follow-up call, the member reported that she went to the ED and was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection and diverticulitis, an infection or inflammation in pouches in the digestive tract that can lead to hospitalization or surgery if severe. The member was given antibiotics to treat the infections and was feeling better.

In this case, given the callers age and previous bout with sepsis, it was important that she seek medical care to ensure her condition did not worsen and require hospitalization. This fever could not have been treated at home, as antibiotics were needed to clear the infections. The Health Coach reviewed what the member should monitor while she recovered from her conditions and the appropriate usage of the medication to ensure recovery.

People can be leery to visit the doctor if they’re not sure if a fever is serious. They may not want to waste their or the doctor’s time or spend the money. They may even feel embarrassed if it’s not serious. Offering your members a nurse advice line where they can get answers to their questions 24/7 and feel more confident in their care decisions can increase member satisfaction, reduce unnecessary medical costs, and prevent additional costs from untreated, serious conditions.

In the next installment of our blog series “The Top Five Reasons People Call the Nurse Advice Line,” we will discuss urinary problems and how our Nurse Advice Line can help members with these conditions.

Topics: Trends & Insights, Nurse Advice Line

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