A fever is an indication that the body is fighting off an infection or illness, and one occurs when the body temperature rises. Fevers usually last for only a few days and do not require medical treatment.


Our normal body temperature is 98.6°F (37°C). Anything above this temperature is considered a fever. Temperatures above 100.4 F (38 C) are considered a high fever.

Fever symptoms can include the following:

  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Shivering
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritability
  • Dehydration
  • General weakness


Low-grade fevers should not be treated with medication, as they enable your body to fight the infection and increase your immunity. If you have a low-grade fever, get plenty of rest and stay hydrated (drink at least 8 glasses of water a day).

If you have a high-grade fever (a temperature above 100.4°F), your doctor will usually recommend over-the-counter medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®). Based on the severity of the fever, your doctor may also prescribe additional medications or other diagnostic tests such as blood work or x-rays.

When to Seek Medical Attention

If your body temperature is above 103°F (39.4°C) get medical care immediately.

You should seek urgent care or emergency room care if you experience the following symptoms in addition to your fever:

  • Prolonged headache
  • Skin rash
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Inability to hold down food or fluids
  • Lack of urination

Causes & Prevention

Your normal temperature will vary throughout the day, but a consistently high temperature is an indication of a fever. A fever or an increase in temperature is caused by a virus, bacterium, and/or other underlying condition. A fever can also be a temporary side effect of certain medications or vaccinations.

You can prevent fevers caused by infections with good hygiene practices such as:

  • Washing your hands regularly
  • Keeping your work and home environment clean
  • Avoiding the sharing of towels, cutlery, cups, etc.
  • Getting an annual flu vaccine
  • Coughing and sneezing into your sleeve
If you're sick, stay home! You get better faster and it helps prevent the spread of disease.