Fever by itself is not an illness, but a symptom for a range of medical conditions. It also can be a side effect of some medications. Fever is one of the most common reasons that parents visit an emergency department with a child.
Elevated body temperature also plays an important role in the body’s normal response to fighting infection. Most people consider 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (F) (37 degrees C) a healthy body temperature, but a person’s normal body temperature may vary a degree or more, and it fluctuates during the day (lower in the morning, higher at night).
Fever in an adult usually isn’t usually dangerous unless it registers 103 degrees F (39.4 degrees C) or higher. If it is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, it may indicate a serious or life-threatening illness. Seek immediate medical attention if your symptoms include:
- Pain or tenderness in the abdomen
- Nausea or vomiting
- Severe headache
- Stiff neck that resists movement
- Light hurts eyes
- Convulsions or seizures
- Difficulty breathing
- Strange behavior, altered speech
- Mental status changes, confusion, difficulty waking, extreme sleepiness
- Rash (particularly if it looks like small bleeding spots under the skin)
Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. For more information on fever in a child, click here.