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.

Read more Know When to Go

Infections & Infectious Diseases Know When to Go Public Education