When to Go to the ER For a High Fever


Jun 3, 2019


Fevers are miserable. You can be burning up, but feel chilled. And if it’s your child who has a fever, it can be very worrisome. While fevers are not uncommon, how do you know if it’s something you can ride out or if you should seek medical attention?

Knowing what to do and when will bring you peace of mind.

What is a Fever?

Generally speaking, a normal body temperature is around 98 degrees Fahrenheit (36.6 degrees Celsius). If your body is trying to fight an infection, its temperature rises. This increase in temperature is a fever. Therefore, a fever is not a disease, but an indication that there’s something going on that your body is trying to combat.

In addition to feeling hot, symptoms of a fever include:

  • Shivers
  • Sweats
  • Dehydration
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Achy muscles

High Fever in Babies and Infants

High fever in a baby can cause seizures.

When to go to the ER for a high fever in babies and infants: See a doctor if your baby is younger than three months of age. If your baby is between three and six months, go to the doctor if their temperature is higher than 102 F (38.9 C).

If your child is older than six months old, seek medical attention if they also have diarrhea.

High Fever in Children

Due to their regular contact with other children, it’s common for kids to get sick often. If your child has a fever, keep them home from school so that they can rest. Also, keep them hydrated. If they get tired of water, give them watermelon or orange slices as snacks. Another fun option is popsicles.

A good way to gauge their level of hydration is to check the color of their urine. If it’s too dark, give them more water, juice, and fruit. This will help to reduce their temperature. Also keep them in lightweight, cool clothing.

When to go to the ER for a high fever in children: Visit a doctor if the fever lasts longer than three days, is higher than 102 F (38.8 C), or if your child is lethargic, vomiting, won’t stop crying, seems confused, or was recently vaccinated.

High Fever in Adults

If the fever is less than 102 F, adults don’t generally need medical intervention. Good home remedies include plenty of hydration and lukewarm baths.

When to go to the ER for a high fever in adults: See a doctor if the fever is higher than 102 F, lasts more than three days, or if any of the following apply:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Skin rash
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Earache
  • Bruising
  • Vomiting
  • Pain while urinating
  • History of heart disease, diabetes, or cancer
  • Being HIV positive

24-Hour Emergency Room Services in Colorado Springs and Texas

If you’re not feeling well, we can provide the care you need. If you have questions or need immediate treatment, your nearest Complete Care location is ready to help, no matter the time of day or night. We offer a variety of services to help you and your family in your time of need. No appointments are necessary.

Find the Complete Care location nearest you.