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.
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.

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Response Data

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 health risk assessment, 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.
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29 thoughts on “When Is A Fever Dangerous?

  1. Scott

    Didn’t see a hint of an answer here. Now I’m very sick and aggravated.

    1. faith

      go o a doctor then.

    2. Sykler

      It’s dangerous over 103 for teens and over, 101 for children and babies

  2. Noah

    Thank you for the information. It helped very much.

  3. mary timmins

    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.

  4. Nate

    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.

  5. carol quimby

    my temperature was 105F last night is that possible or is my thermoter wrong

  6. zigzag

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

  7. Vanessa

    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.

  8. Sameer Kanwar

    Thanks a lot for sharing such a valuable information…..

  9. Raj

    Mine was showing 140 is it possible fever n shivering of body

    1. Sue

      at 140 I think you would be dead.

    2. Mike

      Thermometers for your body don’t go that high. Also, you’d be dead.

  10. Michael

    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.

  11. Judy Whitman

    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

  12. Samantha

    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.

  13. Shirley Tan

    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.

  14. sumi

    i have fever from last Sunday evening with body ache,sore throat, temperature raise and fall, sleepless night and chill.

  15. Anu sharma

    I have fever 37.2 morning but i take panadol my fever mo gone what can i do

  16. Caroline

    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.

  17. Marichel

    My son’s fever is 38. 3 celsius then lowers down to 37. 7 after an hour or 3 it will be 38 celsius again. Why?

  18. Rob

    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.

  19. Samuel

    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.

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