High Temperature (Fever) in Adults: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
A high temperature or fever is when your body temperature is 38 degrees Celsius or higher[^5^]. It can be a sign that you are unwell and that your body is fighting an infection, such as a cold or flu[^1^]. A fever is usually not a cause for concern, but it can sometimes indicate a more serious condition[^2^]. Here are some facts about high temperature in adults and what you can do to treat it.
Normal body temperature is different for everyone and changes during the day. The average temperature has traditionally been defined as 98.6 F (37 C)[^2^]. A temperature taken using a mouth thermometer (oral temperature) that's 100 F (37.8 C) or higher is generally considered to be a fever[^1^]. However, you may have a high temperature even if a thermometer says your temperature is below 38C, if you feel hot or shivery, or have other symptoms such as sweating or warm, red skin[^1^].
What causes a high temperature?
Many things can cause a high temperature. It's often just caused by your body fighting an infection, such as a cold or flu[^1^]. Other possible causes include:
Bacterial infections, such as urinary tract infections, pneumonia or meningitis
Viral infections, such as COVID-19, chickenpox or measles
Inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus
Heat-related illnesses, such as heatstroke or sunburn
Medications, such as antibiotics or vaccines
Cancer or other tumors
Other medical conditions, such as thyroid problems or blood clots
When should you see a doctor?
A fever by itself may not be a reason to see a doctor. However, you should seek medical advice if you have a high temperature and:
You are pregnant
You have a weakened immune system due to a medical condition or treatment
You have a chronic illness, such as diabetes, heart disease or lung disease
You have a rash, stiff neck, severe headache, sore throat, ear pain or abdominal pain
You have trouble breathing, chest pain or cough up blood
You are confused, drowsy or have seizures
Your fever lasts longer than three days or does not respond to medication
Your fever is very high (103 F or 39.4 C) or higher[^3^] [^4^]
How can you treat a high temperature?
If you have a high temperature, it can help to:
Get lots of rest
Drink plenty of fluids (water is best) to avoid dehydration â drink enough so your pee is light yellow and clear[^1^]
Take paracetamol or ibuprofen if you feel uncomfortable â follow the instructions on the packet and do not take more than the recommended dose[^1^]
Stay at home and avoid contact with other people until you do not have a high temperature â this can help prevent spreading the infection to others[^1^]
Cool your skin with a damp cloth or sponge â do not use ice packs or cold water as this can make you shiver and raise your temperature[^5^]
Dress lightly and avoid too many blankets â layers of clothing and bedding can trap heat and make you sweat more[^5^]
A high temperature is usually not a serious problem and will go away on its own. However, if you have any concerns about your fever or other symptoms, you should contact your health care provider for advice. e0e6b7cb5c