Fever: When to Seek Medical Help?

By  , Expert Content
Aug 11, 2011

Fever is a symptom and not a disease; it has many possible causes. You can have fever due to viral or bacterial infection or simply too much sun. Fever is a common symptom in children and temperatures between 100°to 104°F in children and adults are not harmful. In most cases fever needs symptomatic treatment (such as fever reducing medications, drinking plenty of fluids, and rest).

Call a doctor for fever if any of these conditions exist:

  • Fever is high. 1030 F (39.40C) or greater.
  • Fever is present for more than seven days.
  • Fever and other symptoms seem to be worsening.
  • You are worried or uncomfortable about fever.

Call a doctor for fever or consider going to an emergency immediately if fever is associated with any of the following symptoms:


  • Confusion.
  • Excessive sleepiness or lethargy and tiredness.
  • Stiff neck.
  • Severe headache.
  • Sore throat (associated with difficulty in swallowing or drooling).
  • Rash.
  • Chest pain.
  • Difficulty in breathing.
  • Frequent vomiting.
  • Severe abdominal pain.
  • Blood in stool.
  • Pain while passing urine.
  • Red, hot, or swollen skin.


If you have serious medical illnesses, such as cancer or HIV, consult your doctor for mild fever to prevent complications and progression into more serious infection or other conditions.


When to go to the Hospital for Fever

Fever is a symptom and can be caused by certain illnesses that can be life-threatening. These conditions require that you go immediately to a hospital's emergency department. Some symptoms with fever for which you should go to a hospital include:


  • Meningitis. It is an infection of the membranes covering the brain (meninges) and can be a life-threatening illness. People with fever, associated with symptoms such as severe headache, and stiff neck, should be taken to the emergency department immediately.
  • Fever associated with difficulty breathing or chest pain  should immediately visit the emergency department or call for emergency medical transport.
  • Fever with blood in the stool, urine, or mucus.
  • Fever with confusion, and agitation with no obvious reason.
  • People with weak immune system (people with cancer or AIDS).
  • People suffering from hyperthermia, that is temperature more than 1040F (40 C), and especially if the person is confused, or is not responding.


Read more articles on Fever Treatment



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