Most fevers are caused by infection or other illness. Fever itself usually causes no harm and helps the body fight infections by stimulating natural defense mechanisms.
In a healthy person, a fever usually doesn't indicate anything serious. Although a high temperature can be frightening, a fever can actually be a good thing when it's in response to an infection or illness. Experts believe turning up the heat makes the body a less comfortable place for germs that cause infections.
Not all fevers need to be treated. High fever, however, can be uncomfortable and worsen problems such as dehydration.
An important exception: An infant 3 months or younger with a rectal temperature of 100.4ºF (38ºC) or higher needs immediate medical attention. Call your doctor or take the baby to the emergency department immediately. Even a mild fever can be a sign of a potentially serious infection in very young infants.
Home care (rest, plenty of fluids) often is enough to manage a fever. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can ease discomfort, but kids or teens should not take aspirin, which has been linked to a rare but serious illness called Reye syndrome.
Someone with a fever should stay home from school, work, or childcare until the temperature has been normal for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicines.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
|Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The CDC (the national public health institute of the United States) promotes health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability.|
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|American Academy of Family Physicians This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.|
|First Aid: Fever Fevers are usually not cause for alarm - they're the body's way of fighting infection. Here's what to do if your child has a fever.|
|Fever and Taking Your Child's Temperature Although it can be frightening when your child's temperature rises, fever itself causes no harm and can actually be a good thing - it's often the body's way of fighting infections.|
|Febrile Seizures Febrile seizures are full-body convulsions caused by high fevers that affect young kids. Although they can be frightening, they usually stop on their own and don't cause any other health problems.|
|Dehydration Sometimes kids lose fluids and salts through fever, diarrhea, vomiting, or long periods of exercise with excessive sweating. Here are some tips on preventing or treating dehydration.|
|Flu The flu is a virus that can make you sick for a week or longer. Find out more in this article for kids.|
|A Kid's Guide to Fever What are fevers? Why do kids get them? Get the facts on temperatures and fevers in this article for kids.|
|Flu Facts Every year from October to May, millions of people across the United States come down with the flu. Get the facts on the flu - including how to avoid it.|
|Word! Fever You've probably noticed that sometimes when you're sick, you feel really hot one minute and then freezing cold the next.|
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