When Is A Fever Dangerous?

When we feel that our body is burning with fever, the first thought is to get rid of it. It is especially difficult to be relaxed about fever when it attacks our kids. We are ready with pills, cold showers, compresses, cold drinks, anything to bring the temperature down. But, fever or increased body temperature is an important part of our body’s defense against infections. When we are attacked by an invader, our body reacts by rising the temperature. Most viruses and bacteria that cause infections thrive at 98.6 °F There is also a theory that our immune system works best at higher than normal body temperature. It does not mean that we can ignore fever when it hits us and keep going on like it is all normal. It is important to distinguish fevers that require urgent trip to the doctor, and others that are better left alone, to do the job of fighting infection, with a little help of rest, hot soup and some vitamin C.

What is normal?

Our normal body temperature changes during the day, throughout the month, and is very much dependent on the activity we do. Normal temperature in adults varies from 97 F (36.1 C) to 99 F (37.2 C). It is lower when we wake up in the morning and higher later in the day. It can be a few degrees higher after an exercise. Body temperature in women changes depending on their menstrual cycle. Some people naturally have higher body temperature than others. But, we know when our increased temperature is due to an infection, because it comes with other symptoms:

  • Very sore throat and throat swelling
  • Skin rash that is rapidly getting worse
  • Severe headache
  • Sudden sensitivity to brightness
  • Stiff neck
  • Confusion
  • Prolonged vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Irritability and listlessness
  • Sharp stomach pain
  • Pain when urinating
  • Any strange unexplained symptoms

Any of these symptoms together with a fever require a trip to the doctor. As a rule of thumb, see your doctor any time your temperature is higher than 103 F (39.4 C) and lasts longer than three days. Doctor can determine the cause of high fever and prescribe proper treatment or medication depending on the cause.

Children and Fever

Babies are much more sensitive to high body temperature and fever has to be taken very seriously. See your pediatrician immediately if your baby is younger than three months and has even slightly elevated temperature. For older babies and kids, see a doctor if a fever is higher than 101 F (38.3 C), if a child has a fever and refuses water and food or is more irritable than normal and keeps crying.  Children that are feverish and are lethargic may be suffering from meningitis, so see a doctor right away.

Call your doctor right away if your child has a fever and:

  • Looks very sick
  • Is drowsy or very fussy
  • Has a weakened immune system or other medical problems
  • Has a seizure
  • Has other symptoms such as  rash,  sore throat,  headache,  stiff neck, or  earache

Parents are often afraid of seizures that sometimes occur as a consequence of high body temperature. These types of seizures are very seldom harmful to children and last less than five minutes. Seizures are most often resulting from sudden increase of body temperature, not from high temperature.

Fevers that happen as body’s response to an infection rarely go over 106.2 (41.3 C). Such high temperatures are most commonly due to head trauma, heatstroke, poisoning or side effect of anesthesia.

It is important to remember that fever in general is NOT dangerous. To damage the brain, our temperature would have to go over 107.6 F (42 C). Use the fever as a sign your body is sending you that some infection is going on and see if you can do something about it. Rest, nutrition high in vitamin C, fresh air, and light exercise can help your body”s immune system to fight infection before it becomes serious. Lowering your temperature with pills will make you feel more comfortable, but will not help you fight the infection. If your own immune system cannot fight the infection and the fever lasts longer than three days, see your doctor even if you have no other symptoms.

Your Action Steps:

  • 1Check with your doctor if you, your child and especially your baby are having a high fever.
  • 2Enroll in our Doctor on Demand program to get 24/7 access to a licensed US physician (US residents only)
  • 3Get a high quality Dual Mode Thermometer to take temperatures more accurately.

HealthStatus Team

HealthStatus has been operating since 1998 providing the best interactive health tools on the Internet, millions of visitors have used our blood alcohol, body fat and calories burned calculators.

The HealthStatus editorial team has continued that commitment to excellence by providing our visitors with easy to understand high quality health content for many years.

Our team of health professionals, and researchers use peer reviewed studies as source elements in our articles.

Our high quality content has been featured in a number of leading websites, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, Live Strong, GQ, and many more.
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HealthStatus has been operating since 1998 providing the best interactive health tools on the Internet, millions of visitors have used our blood alcohol, body fat and calories burned calculators. The HealthStatus editorial team has continued that commitment to excellence by providing our visitors with easy to understand high quality health content for many years. Our team of health professionals, and researchers use peer reviewed studies as source elements in our articles. Our high quality content has been featured in a number of leading websites, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, Live Strong, GQ, and many more.


  1. mary timmins Reply

    The article provided the answer. “……. see your doctor any time your temperature is higher than 103 F (39.4 C) and lasts longer than three days. Doctor can determine the cause of high fever and prescribe proper treatment or medication depending on the cause.”

    1. Amanda

      My child has had a fever of 103-104 for 2 days and I’m not going to a doctor. Unless there are worrisome symptoms all I do is make them comfortable and ride out the fever.

  2. Nate Reply

    This is a great article – as long as the fever is below 107.6, will not damage your brain. This is just the information I was looking for.

    1. pete

      I had Malaria in Vietnam…they watched me closely, and when temp got to 107 they bathed me in ice water and alcohol. Temp of 106+ is not something to take lightly…

    1. Leslie Hillman

      Very possible. My grandson?s temperature was 105 a couple of hours ago. I bathed him in cool water and gave him Tylenol, which brought it down to 102.

  3. zigzag Reply

    In order to determine if this was helpful or not, one would first know how to read. Totally helpful. Thank you for the information.

  4. Vanessa Reply

    This is the only article I have found that mentions the possibly of a viral illness causing a child’s temperature to rise above 106 degrees, and I have been searching for information like this for almost 4 days straight. With that being said, my child was ill over the weekend, and his temperature rose to 106.2 degrees! I had never heard of a child’s temperature rising to such a level. Has anyone else’s child ever had a temperature this high? If so, what kind of illness did they have? Does anyone know if this is something that happens often? Any information you can give me would be greatly appreciated. My child has been getting sick a lot within the last 7 months (19 times), and I am very worried that something more than your average virus is affecting him. I also feel like it is important to know that he is 2 and 1/2 years old, and no one else in our house or his day care has been getting sick with viruses like this.

    1. Samad

      Hi Vanessa, our 2.5 year old just hit 107 today. He has an ear infection and as far as we are aware nothing else. This is the first time my wife and I have witnessed such a temperature. Goes without saying we were putting wetting his forehead and arms and gave him panadol while I was on the phone with 111, who, given how I described our child’s condition, didn’t think it was necessary to call 999. We were called into the doctor’s within the next hour but his temperature had fallen by then. All I can think of is we will try our best that his temperature does not go close to that high again – still 5.5 more days to go for his antibiotics.

    2. Jessica

      My daughter is horribly sick with no one else around sick also, diagnosed by nd as a parasite. As a child I was sick a lot & allergic to penicillin as it turns out so one thing just made the next worse. 19 times is a lot, do what you can to boost his immune while you search for answers obviously that’s not normal. Bone broth, no sugar and I mean zero make sure to read labels it’s in most things, a good probiotic or better yet fermented foods help build gut health also. Be his advocate, educate yourself as much as you can! sadly doctors are not always trained to get to the bottom of unusual problems. Best of luck to you and your little one :)

    3. TinaB

      Oh my! I do not want to sugarcoat this, but your child could have leukemia (cancer). An immediate analysis by qualified doctors/specialists could make all the difference, especially when it comes to survival. I’m so sorry for your son’s suffering, but you should NEVER put off seeing a doctor when your child has been fever sick so frequently. It would be considered neglect in most westernized countries.

    4. Kalin

      My son had a high fever when he just got type one diabetes. I would definitely suggest you take him in and bring that up. Lots of pediatricians over look it and they refer to it as “the silent killer” because they symptoms are similar to the flu.

    5. Shannan

      I somehow got on a fever forum and read your question your about kids getting high temps, my child was getting 105+ fevers after a few months of tests we found out she has a blood disorder that results in several years high fevers every few weeks. It?s called hereditary spherosytosis meaning her blood cells are round and fragile etc….if your child was immediately born with jaundice this is definitely something to look into

    6. Heidi

      Get your little one to a dr and let them at least diagnose the problem. Then google ?natural remedies for……..?. Collidial silveris great for a miriade of infections and diseases. It is said that during the black plaque in Europe almost none of the wealthy died. The reason? They drank from silver goblets that infused silver into their system while the under class drank from wood or other vessels that held and spread the disease. Ask your dr how many HOURS of nutritional training they get. My moms dr said two, two hours in four to seven years in med school? That is why they cannot help many many people. They are not trained to get to the root cause, they are trained to write prescriptions that mask symptoms but never get you well. Like antibiotics that literally rape your immune system so you have to come back over & over again. I worked in a pharmacy for seven years and saw and heard many things. Get diagnosed and then look for natural cures!

    7. Jeanna

      Could be an ear infection hun go to a doctor’s especially at that young of an age. My son’s 4 and he hit 106 after we got back from the hospital he had only hit 103 and I took him in

  5. Michael Reply

    My 24 years old son had a fever of 106.4 and it has been fluctuating between 103.5 and 105.5 for over 12 hours during which he was given tylenol twice. He is going through CAR-T cell clinical trial fighting his leukemia. You information has been extremely helpful. Thank you.

  6. Judy Whitman Reply

    I have a friend and her 20 month old is in John Hopkins childrens hospital, she caught a virus that is caused by bird poo and you don’t have to touch it it is the air and you just have to breath where it’s at and she ended up in the hospital on life support from day one she also got pneumonia in her lungs the left lung has deflate and it is full of mucus and they are having to suction it a lot and get very little. They also had to put her on ECMO machine that circulation of the blood and to cleanse the blood and put back the blood continue it everyday for 3 weeks. There is very little change in her condition. And now she has a temperature of 108 degree how long can she have that high of a temperature and not cause brain problems? I know John Hopkins is doing everything they can to help her. Her case is very unusual for kids to get. I have heard that there has only been 2 other cases and hers is the third case. My email don’t work right now you could call me at 813-927-5193

    1. KNW12

      My mother told me whenever I was 2 years old, I had a fever of 108 (F) and I lived. It was only because I had a disease (I don’t know how to spell it but it started with an M). I was 2 at that time and 101 is bad for that age.

  7. Samantha Reply

    I once had a fever 103 and a sore throat and chills. I really didn’t want to eat. never wait to see a doctor if your fever is 103.

  8. Shirley Tan Reply

    My Sri Lankan domestic helper wants to know what causes a child to have on and off fever for almost a year? The child has seen many Doctors in Sri Lanka but the fever is still there.

    Thank you.

    1. TinaB

      There can be multiple things, but leukemia (cancer) is one of them. She needs to have her child thoroughly diagnosed ASAP.

  9. Caroline Reply

    I have a 19 year old son he feels it’s hard to breathe his ribs are sore to the point he’s near tears n his temp is 38.5 but he’s feeling really cold what should I do x

    1. TinaB

      It could have been pneumonia. Did you ever figure it out? When children/people find it hard to breathe and the ribs are sore (can even feel cracked) that’s generally indicative of serious lung infection.

    2. K. C.

      I would get him to the doctor. If the pain in his ribs are from right under his peck around to the back it could be pleurisy. A very uncomfortable but treatable lung infection. In my opinion any infection of the lungs need to be taken seriously.

  10. Rob Reply

    This is absolutely the WORST article I have ever read about fevers. If you have a fever and are lethargic, why on earth would you suggest that it could be meningitis? Let’s just scare all the concerned parents even more! A good fever usually makes you lethargic. If you have a fever and no respiratory symptoms (coughing, sneezing, runny nose), get to the doctor. If your temp is over 104, get to the doctor. Most other cases are at your discretion, treat with Tylenol/ibuprofen if desired.

  11. Samuel Reply

    I have had a ~103 fever with sore throat and awful cough he past few days. I have just been rotating Tylenol to Advil every 3 hours for the time I have had it.

  12. Lenah Reply

    Haddon fever chills at night only treating malaria at 39.3 and doctor says not to worry just conclude treatment. I still feel sick three days after

  13. Ronald Reply

    Not one word about vaccines in the article nor the comments, while fever (and seizures, etc.) in infants is a common reaction to immunizations… The body is a self-regulating organism (like in ‘organization’), it’s not a mechanical thing that has to be checked or fixed all the time. It is fully integrated in nature and acts/reacts accordingly with it. There’s one theory about ‘dis-ease’ that explains ‘symptoms’ (including fever/seizures, etc) from a natural/biological standpoint, but the medical establishment has done everything in its power to keep this theory out of people’s reach. Since the discovery of this theory in 1981, the inventor, a medical doctor with years of practice, quickly got his license revoked and found himself thrown in jail a few times – his theory, as a post doctoral thesis has been on the black list of ‘conventional medicine’ and has never officially been tested, in spite of 30 verifications by other doctors and even a few universities… I’m talking of ‘German New Medicine’ (GNM), lately ‘New Medicine’ or ‘German(ic) Medicine’. It’s completely in line with studies the medical establishment doesn’t want the public to be aware of, like this one: [Link deleted]and this one [Link deleted]It’s not that, for instance, cancer is on the rise, it’s more like cancer diagnosis is on the rise and that’s exactly the idea behind all these ‘preventive screenings’ and ‘regular checkups’ and so on… The first study shows two things: “Therefore, for every 100 non-palpable cancers found through mammography alone, 54 would presumably have gone away” and “Of course it is impossible to say which particular cancer will disappear without treatment, and so all must be treated.” The second study makes clear that chemotherapy is just another (profitable) hoax. There’s so much more to be said here, but you’re going to have to dig in all this yourselves (GNM and the vaccine-controversie is a good start). Cheers!

    1. Ronald

      I see the links in my earlier comment have been deleted, so here’s how to find the two studies I’ve mentioned there: just Google for “cancer disappears 54%” (its PubMed number is: PMC3320224) and “chemotherapy 5 year survival rate” (PMID 15630849) or just google for PMC3320224 and PMID 15630849 When you read up on GNM, please focus on the work/theory of dr Hamer, not on the slander campaign against his person… This man has been hunted down by the whole medical establishment and his life destroyed, while all he had to do to live a comfortable life would have been to ‘swear off’ his troublesome discovery (troublesome for big pharma, that is) and get on with his normal doctors practice… Dr Hamer died on July 2nd this year, after living in exile for more than 10 year. I can only imagine the horrors he went through to preserve his legacy for the people.

  14. Vaghela Bharat Reply

    My 4 years old son had fever at night 103.6. Then in morning itwas 96.6 & at noon it was 99.4. He was given paracetamol 5Ml at 0200 AM. Suddenly it was rise at 113, 114 and last reach at 117 between 0300 PM to 0330 PM. In between he was given domestic treatment for cooling down by putting wet cloths in normal water at head feet and chest and given 5ml Mefenamic Acid 100mg . Its down to 107 within 20 minutes. Then went to doctor now he is very fine in three hour after getting temperature 117.

    Is it possible for 4 years old child?

  15. Melody Reply

    I had a fever of 104.5. I took some medicine, took a cool bath, and took a nap. I didn’t go to the doctor, but now my temperature is 100.5. I was so scared it was the end for me because I was told that by a temp of 105 you would die. But this article made me feel before knowing things just get worse around 107. I feel a lot better now.

  16. Russ Reply

    I regularly (every 4-5 weeks) have temperatures of around 41.5 and up to 42, I suffer from recurring sepsis of unknown cause though it is starting to look more like it is gut related. The problem has lasted around 4 1/2 years and is treated by hospital admission of around 1 week and treated on IV tazocin. This illness has literally ruined my life since it started and is not showing any real promising sign of abating though I do have a team of doctors really committed to helping me. Whenever I am approaching such temperatures the pain and uther side affects is unbearable and my veins have finally packed in from constant cannulation and bloods. Has anyone ever heard of such a thing before that’s relevant to my problems as I’m at the end of my tether.

  17. Debanjan Reply

    I am 36 year old I don’t get fever too often but when I do get fever it reaches 106 Fahrenheit the after effect I suffer is a nerve bursting in my eye I have suffered the same thing thrice in last18 years

  18. Rakesh Reply

    I had a fever 104 degree c but i wont go to doctor for checkup i have the same thing that i do regular in daily routine but i ignore the cold things like curd and in came back to 100 degree c

  19. Hailey Reply

    My head hurts really bad and I have a fever of 106 and I’ve been going in between 100-104 the last two days. Four days ago I got diagnosed with influenza type A, and I’m still not well. I’m taking tamiflu and Tylenol and still not getting better. Should I go to the hospital? I’m in unbearable pain

  20. LeNa Amburn Reply

    If your fever is 104 degrees and you did not take it rectal, then you have to add 2, or 3 degrees pending wher you took it. I thought my son had a 103 degree tempature but when i went to the hospital , they tock it rectal, and it was 105. He had meningitus and it was very serious, but the doctors saved him and all his limbs. You do not wait with a high fever!!! Recently a person on my facebooks son died because he had flesh eating disease and his parents waited too long, his fever was not that high 101 I think.

  21. Alex Reply

    Yesterday I reached about 40c I almost died I called 911 since I live alone I couldn’t walk and I’m not seeing anything clearly I had a huge headache the next 5hours I woke up at the hospital then I left home and the medicines with me

  22. Suyash Reply

    I just had a fever of 106 c doctor gave me injection and said I have flu I have sour throat chest pains and my eyes are burning

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