Recent Blog Articles
Prostate cancer in transgender women
Why eat lower on the seafood chain?
Can long COVID affect the gut?
When replenishing fluids, does milk beat water?
Safe, joyful movement for people of all weights
Slowing down racing thoughts
Are women turning to cannabis for menopause symptom relief?
3 ways to create community and counter loneliness
Helping children make friends: What parents can do
Can electrical brain stimulation boost attention, memory, and more?
How high a fever is too high?
- By Maureen Salamon, Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch
Ask the doctors
Q. Everyone gets a fever sometimes, but at what point does an elevated temperature warrant medical attention?
A. It’s true that fevers are incredibly common, and COVID-19 certainly brought its share of thermometer-raising days to those infected. As with COVID, fever — defined as a temperature of 100.4° F or higher — is your immune system’s response to an infection or another invader. Your elevated temperature is a clear sign something is amiss.
Most fevers go down if you take an over-the-counter medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil). If yours doesn’t, contact your doctor.
As for a fever that’s too high, that depends on a couple of other factors. If you’re over 65 or immunocompromised — especially if you may have been exposed to COVID-19 — call your doctor if your fever reaches 101°. Anyone with a fever of 103° or higher should do the same. And if your temperature reaches 105°, go straight to an emergency room.
— Toni Golen, M.D., and Hope Ricciotti, M.D.
Editors in Chief, Harvard Women’s Health Watch
About the Author
Maureen Salamon, Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.
No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
You might also be interested in…
COVID-19, Flu, and Colds
Any given year, we’ll collectively come down with one billion colds and up to 45 million cases of flu, while the number of new cases of COVID-19 keeps rising. In this guide, you will learn how to avoid getting any of these three viral infections, and, if you do get sick, what you can do to feel better. You’ll also learn when your condition is serious enough to call a doctor. The report also provides specific information about high-risk groups for whom COVID and the flu can be very serious.
Free Healthbeat Signup
Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!