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One is considered to have a fever if his or her core body temperature is over 100.0°. So how do you know if a fever is serious? Depends of the age of the person suffering from the fever.


Any infant under the age of three months with a fever over 100° should be taken to the doctor immediately. Infants in this age range don’t have immune systems strong enough yet to fight serious infection, and a fever is the first sign of an infection. It’s also an indicator of less serious illnesses, but in the case of an infant it’s better to err on the safe side.


It’s much more common for children to have fevers due to viral infections, such as colds or flu, however a healthy child over three months typically has the ability to fight these types of illnesses. If your child suffers from congestion, cough, or runny nose, and has a fever, chances are the viral infection will run its course.

However, take your child to the doctor as soon as possible if he or she has any of these symptoms:

  • Severe headache, dizziness, or confusion
  • Severe sore throat and an odd smell to their breath
  • Stiffness or pain in the neck
  • Trouble breathing
  • Has a temperature of 105° or greater

You can give a child Children’s Tylenol, Motrin, or Advil, to bring a fever down, however, remember fever is what fights infection.

Never give Motrin or Advil to a child under six months or to a severely dehydrated child (usually due to vomiting or diarrhea).


Unlike children, even the slightest fever slows down an adult. Fevers in adults can be due to a multitude of reasons, but usually trace back to either cold or flu. Consult your doctor if your fever shows any of the following symptoms:

  • Goes over a temperature of 103°
  • Lasts more than seven days
  • Gets worse (goes up) instead of better

Seek medical attention immediately if your fever is accompanied by:

  • A stiff neck
  • Confusion
  • Chest pain
  • Severe sore throat (trouble swallowing)
  • A rash
  • Trouble breathing
  • Dehydration
  • Leg swelling
  • Pain with urination