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 mission of the CDC is to promote health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability. Call: (800) CDC-INFO|
|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.|
|Word! Fever You've probably noticed that sometimes when you're sick, you feel really hot one minute and then freezing cold the next.|
|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.|
|Fever Instruction Sheet Although it can be frightening when a 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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
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