When to Seek Care for a Fever

September 17, 2020

Clinical Contributors to this Story

Olevia Metry, M.D. contributes to topics such as Family Medicine.

A fever (defined as a temperature of 100.4°F or higher) happens when your body is trying to fight off an infection or your immune system becomes activated. The increase in your body temperature signals that something is not quite right with you.

Sometimes a fever comes and goes quickly, other times it lingers, and your temperature fluctuates over time.

Our clinical expert, Olevia Metry, M.D., a family medicine specialist with Hackensack Meridian Medical Group, shares a breakdown of when you should contact your doctor or health care provider if you have a fever:

Adults

Numbers that are cause for concern:

  • 105°F – Go to the emergency room
  • 103°F or higher – Contact your health care provider
  • 101°F or higher – If you’re immunocompromised or over 65 years of age, and are concerned that you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, contact your health care provider

Situations that are cause for concern:

  • if you have a fever and it doesn’t go down after taking over-the-counter medications, like ibuprofen
  • if you’ve been in hot temperatures and develop a fever, it could be a sign of a heat stroke
  • if you’ve been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, you could be at risk for the virus

Call your doctor for medical advice if you experience any of these situations.

Children

Call your child’s pediatrician under the following circumstances:

  • 0-3 months – Your child has a temperature of 100.4°F or higher, with or without symptoms
  • 3-6 months – Your child has a temperature of 100.4°F or higher, plus irritable behavior/sleepiness OR a temperature of 102°F or higher
  • 6-24-months – Your child has a temperature of 102°F for longer than a day AND symptoms such as a rash, cough or diarrhea
  • 2+ years – Your child has a temperature of 100.4°F or higher AND symptoms such as a rash, fatigue, headache, stiff neck, prolonged diarrhea or vomiting
  • Any age:
    • Your child has a seizure
    • Your child has a temperature of 103°F or higher
    • Any fever that starts after your child has been in hot temperatures (could be a sign of heat stroke)
    • Your child’s fever doesn’t go down after taking over-the-counter medications, like ibuprofen
    • Your child has been in contact with someone who has COVID-19

This article will teach you how to take your temperature to check for a fever.

Next Steps & Resources:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care