A to Z Symptoms: Fever

A to Z Symptoms: Fever

A to Z Symptoms: Fever

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.

More to Know


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.

Keep in Mind

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.

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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Related Resources
OrganizationCenters 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.
OrganizationAmerican 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.
OrganizationAmerican 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.
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