What is a fever?
A fever is a temporary increase in your body temperature, often due to an illness. Having a fever is a sign that something out of the ordinary is going on in your body.
For an adult, a fever may be uncomfortable, but usually isn’t a cause for concern unless it reaches 103 F (39.4 C) or higher. For infants and toddlers, a slightly elevated temperature may indicate a serious infection.
Fevers generally go away within a few days. A number of over-the-counter medications lower a fever, but sometimes it’s better left untreated. Fever seems to play a key role in helping your body fight off a number of infections.
In response to an infection, illness, or some other cause, the hypothalamus may reset the body to a higher temperature. Although the most common causes of fever are common infections such as colds and gastroenteritis, other causes include: Infections of the ear, lung, skin, throat, bladder, or kidney.
Depending on what’s causing your fever, additional fever signs and symptoms may include:
– Chills and shivering.
– Muscle aches.
– Loss of appetite.
– General weakness.
No matter the illness, keep your child home if she has a fever. It may seem harmless enough, but assume any fever is a symptom of a contagious condition. Viruses that cause fevers are contagious as long as the fever is above a 100.4 degrees F.
The type of infection causing the fever usually determines how often the fever recurs and how long the fever lasts. Fevers due to viruses can last for as little as two to three days and sometime as long as two weeks. A fever caused by a bacterial infection may continue until the child is treated with an antibiotic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends staying home for 24 hours after a fever and other flu-like symptoms (chills, sweating, flushed skin) have cleared up.
1. If the temperature is 103 F (39.4 C) or greater (fever is too high)
2. If the fever lasts more than seven days.
3. If the fever symptoms get worse (concern if fever is increasing toward 39.4 C)