Should I worry about my fever?

A fever (higher than 98.6 F) means your body has something unusual going on.  But the degree of fever doesn’t necessarily indicate the seriousness of the underlying condition.  A minor illness may cause a high fever, and a more serious illness may cause a low fever.

For very young children and infants, a slightly elevated temperature may indicate a serious infection.    For an adult, a fever may be uncomfortable, but your fever usually isn’t dangerous unless it reaches 103 F or higher.

When should I see a doctor?

Fevers may not be a cause for alarm — or a reason to call a doctor. Yet there are some circumstances when you should seek medical advice for your baby, your child or yourself.

Call your child’s doctor if your child:

  • Is listless or irritable, vomits repeatedly, has a severe headache or stomachache, or has any other symptoms causing significant discomfort.
  • Ask your child’s doctor for guidance in special circumstances, such as a child with immune system problems or with a pre-existing illness. Your child’s doctor also may recommend precautions if your child has just started taking a new prescription medicine.

Call your own doctor if you as an adult has:

  • A  temperature higher than 103 F
  • You’ve had a fever for more than three days

High fever and symptoms like those below, call your doctor right away

  1. Severe headache
  2. Severe throat swelling
  3. Unusual skin rash, especially if the rash rapidly worsens
  4. Unusual sensitivity to bright light
  5. Stiff neck and pain when you bend your head forward
  6. Mental confusion
  7. Persistent vomiting
  8. Difficulty breathing or chest pain
  9. Extreme listlessness or irritability
  10. Abdominal pain or pain when urinating
  11. Any other unexplained signs or symptoms