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Chest and Respiratory Problems

Fever

Home Treatment - When to Call a Health Professional

A fever is a high body temperature. It is a symptom, not a disease. A fever is one way your body fights illness. A temperature of up to 38.9°C (102°F) can be helpful because it helps the body respond to infection. Most healthy adults can tolerate a

fever as high as 39.4° to 40°C ( 103 ° to 104°F ) for short periods of time without problems.

For specific fever guidelines for children younger than 4 years of age, See Fever.

Home Treatment

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  • Drink 8 to 12 glasses of water a day. You are drinking enough if you are urinating more often than usual.

  • Take and record your temperature every 2 hours and whenever symptoms change.

  • Take acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen to lower fever. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 20.

  • Take a sponge bath with lukewarm water if a fever causes discomfort.

  • Watch for signs of dehydration. See Dehydration.

  • Dress lightly.

  • Eat light, easily digested foods, such as soup.

  • If you have classic flu symptoms, try Home Treatment and reassess your symptoms in 48 hours. See Influenza (Flu).

When to Call a Health Professional

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  • If a fever higher than 40° to 40.5°C ( 104 ° to 105°F ) does not come down after 2 hours of Home Treatment.

  • If a fever higher than 39.4° to 40°C ( 103 ° to 104°F ) does not come down after 12 hours of Home Treatment.

  • If you have a persistent fever. Many viral illnesses cause fevers of 38.9°C (102°F) or higher for short periods of time (up to 12 to 24 hours). Call a doctor if the fever stays high:

    • 38.9°C (102°F) or higher for 2 full days

    • 38.3°C (101°F) or higher for 3 full days

    • 37.8°C (100°F) or higher for 4 full days

  • If body temperature rises to 39.4°C (103°F) or higher, all sweating stops, and the skin becomes hot, dry, and flushed (possible heat stroke, See Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke).

  • If a fever occurs with other signs of a bacterial infection (See Viral or Bacterial?).

  • If fever occurs with any of the following symptoms:

  • If you develop a fever after you start taking a new medication.

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