Got a fever? When should you see a doctor?


Although fever is the body’s protective mechanism, often self-limiting or treatable at home, sometimes it warrants an immediate medical care. It is important know the signs and symptoms that would sent out an emergency call.

In Infants

  1. If the baby is younger than 3 months and the rectal temperature reaches 38°C (100.4°F) or more.
  2. If the baby is aged between 3-6 months and the rectal temperature is 38.9°C (102°F) or more and the baby seems lethargic, irritated or uncomfortable.
  3. If the baby is aged between 6-24 months and the rectal temperature is 38.9°C (102°F) or more lasting for more than a day even in absence of other symptoms. If the baby also has diarrhea, cold or cough than a sooner visit to the doctor is warranted.
  4. In neonates i.e. newborns a temperature lesser than 36.1°C (97°F) also warrants a visit to the doctor. In newborns thermal regulation might not be efficient and instead of rise in temperature, a decline is present.
  5. If you’re doubtful of your baby’s health, irrespective of temperature and other symptoms, you should make a call to the doctor for advice.

In children

The immune system of a child (over 2 years) has developed enough that there is no need for alarm if the child has fever as long as he/she is alert, accepting fluids and playing normally. However, the parents or guardians must look out for following signs.

  1. The child is lethargic, irritated or vomiting repetitively and also if there is severe headache, stomach ache and any other discomfort-causing signs and symptoms warrants a doctor’s help.
  2. If the child was locked inside a hot car, he/she can quickly develop a heat stroke, fever, and dehydration. Seek emergency medical care right away.
  3. The child has had the fever for more than three days.
  4. The child is lethargic, drowsy and makes little to no eye contact.
  5. In some rare cases of weak immune system or a superimposed illness, appropriate precautions (as stated by your doctor) must be taken.

In adults

In adults a doctor should be called when:

  1. The temperature is equal to 103°F (39.4°C) or more than that
  2. The fever has been persistent for three or more days

Also, immediate attention is warranted if the patient has one or more of the following signs and symptoms:

  1. Severe swelling in the throat
  2. Intolerable headache
  3. Stiffness in the neck or difficulty in bending the neck forwards
  4. An odd skin rash, particularly when it develops rapidly.
  5. Photosensitivity (i.e. abnormal sensitivity towards light)
  6. Consistent vomiting or nausea
  7. Confusion
  8. Pain in chest
  9. Difficult or painful breathing
  10. Extreme fatigue, lethargy or irritation
  11. Pain on urination
  12. Pain in the abdomen
  13. Muscular weakness or sensory problems
  14. Another unexplained signs and symptoms
  15. Seizures