What temperature is a fever ?
What temperature is a fever – The Amazrock Guide on how to correlate the different temperature readings by ear, rectal, oral & forehead thermometer.
- What temperature is a fever or what’s considered a fever ?
- Understanding fever
- How should someone measure fever temperature ?
- Temperature Measurement Guide – Correlation Chart
- When to see your doctor
- Self care
What’s considered a fever ?
What temperature is a fever ?
The normal human body temperature is around 36.5-37.5 °C (97.7–99.5 °F).
Normal temperature range : 36.5-37.5 °C (97.7–99.5 °F)
Average normal temperature : 37.0 °C (98.6 °F)
Medical fever : >38.0 °C (100.4 °F)
Mild fever : 38.0-38.9 °C (100.4-102.2 °F)
High fever : 39.0-39.9 °C (102.2-103.8 °F) or higher
Note. Strictly speaking from a medical perspective, it is only considered as a significant fever when the body temperature rises to more than 38.0 °C (100.4 °F).
- Fever is the result of an immune response by your body to infection. The common causes of fever are due to viruses, bacteria, fungi, drugs or other toxins.
- Fever raises body temperature to help the body fight off infections. When we are sick and have a fever, our body is actually trying to fight off the infection by raising the body temperature as viruses and bacteria cannot survive at higher temperature.
- While fever is a good and normal body reaction mechanism, we should be careful of very high body temperature (more than 39.5 °C or 103.1 °F). which can be discomforting and requires immediate medical attention.
- For patients suffering from inflammation in various parts of the body, you may feel the symptoms of feverish heat although their body temperature may only be at 37C or 99.5F which is at normal range.
What temperature is a fever – Fever symptoms ?
Mild fever (38.0–38.9°C or 100.4-102.2 °F)
Symptoms: You may feel a lethargic weakness and experience flushed cheek. Body can be warm to touch.
Activity level: You can generally be able to carry out most of your normal daily activities.
High fever (39.0–39.9°C [102.2-103.8 °F] or higher)
Symptoms: You may experience, headache, a loss of appetite and body ache. Body can be hot to touch. There may be shivering, shaking and chills.
With very high temperatures (>104F or 40C), convulsions, confusion or hallucination is possible. Always seek medical attention for a high fever or if these symptoms occur.
Activity level: You won’t feel well enough to carry out normal activities. With high fever, you would likely feel drowsy fatigue and want to stay in bed (be inactive).
What temperature is a fever – How should someone measure fever temperature ?
Digital thermometer can be used to check the body temperature to see whether a person has a fever.
There are 2 ways to measure body temperature :
- Core temperature (temperature of deep tissues)
- Method of measurement – oral cavity, ear canal, rectum
- Surface temperature (temperature of surface skin tissues)
- Method of measurement – forehead, armpit
Digital thermometers can be used to measure rectal, oral or forehead temperatures. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend use of mercury thermometers (glass), and they also encourage parents to remove mercury thermometers from their household to prevent accidental exposure to this toxin.
You can take a temperature using the mouth (oral), anus (rectal), armpit (temporal), or ear (tympanic). But the temperature readings vary depending on which one you use. Generally, the temperature results by the various methods are as follows :
- The average normal oral temperature is 98.6°F (37°C).
- A rectal temperature is 0.5°F (0.3°C) to 1°F (0.6°C) higher than an oral temperature.
- An ear (tympanic) temperature is 0.5°F (0.3°C) to 1°F (0.6°C) higher than an oral temperature.
- A forehead (temporal) scanner is usually 0.5°F (0.3°C) to 1°F (0.6°C) lower than an oral temperature.
When you talk with your doctor about the measured temperature, it is important to state what method was used to take the temperature. This provides the doctor with a consistent and proper comparison data should the clinic use a different temperature measurement method.
Temperature Measurement Guide – Correlation Chart
The temperature comparison table below will give you guidance on the range of temperature correlation with the different methods used to take a temperature. Please note that the below is a guide ONLY and there may be slight variation from the actual readings.
|Comparison of fever temperature in Fahrenheit by method|
|Forehead (°F)||Oral (°F)||Rectal/Ear (°F)|
|98.4 to 99.3||99.5 to 99.9||100.4 to 101|
|99.4 to 101.1||100.0 to 101.5||101.1 to 102.4|
|101.2 to 102.0||101.6 to 102.4||102.5 to 103.5|
|102.1 to 103.1||102.5 to 103.5||103.6 to 104.6|
|103.2 to 104.0||103.6 to 104.6||104.7 to 105.6|
|Comparison of fever temperature in Centigrade by method|
|Forehead (°C)||Oral (°C)||Rectal/Ear (°C)|
|36.9 to 37.4||37.5 to 37.7||38.0 to 38.3|
|37.5 to 38.4||37.8 to 38.5||38.4 to 39.1|
|38.5 to 38.9||38.6 to 39.1||39.2 to 39.7|
|39.0 to 39.5||39.2 to 39.7||39.8 to 40.3|
|39.6 to 40.0||39.8 to 40.3||40.4 to 40.9|
Look for the temperature range of the other methods that correlates to the method you used. For example:
- If your 2-year-old child’s oral temperature is 101°F (38.3°C), his or her rectal or ear temperature may be about 102°F (38.9°C). Remember, a child has a fever when his or her temperature is 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, measured rectally.
- If your forehead temperature is 100°F (37.8°C), your oral temperature is about 100.5 to 101°F (38.1 to 38.3°C) and you can expect your ear or rectal temperature to be around 101 to 102°F (38.3 to 38.9°C).
What Surface Body Temperature is considered as High Fever
It is considered a fever when the patient has a surface body temperature that exceeds 99.5°F/37.5°C.
Any surface body temperature above 100.4°F or 38 degrees Celsius can be considered as high fever. The equivalent temperature reference of 100.4°F/38°C if measured with oral thermometer is probably around 100.9 to 101.4°F (38.3 to 38.6°C).
The correlating body core temperature is likely ranging around 102.2°F (39.0°C) and higher if measured with ear or rectal thermometer. This would mean a high fever.
What Oral Temperature is a High Fever?
It’s considered a fever if the patient has an oral temperature greater than 37.8 degrees Celsius. A oral temperature that is above 101.4°F/38.6°C means a high fever.
Oral temperature should be measured in all patients, except in when they are unconscious, have mental confusion, seizures, nasal, mouth or throat disorders, and if they are children under 6 years old.
What Ear or Rectal Temperature is considered a High Fever?
It’s considered a fever if the patient has an ear or rectal temperature over 38.0 degrees Celsius. A body core temperature that ranges above 102.2°F (39.0°C), if measured with ear or rectal thermometer, can be considered as a high fever.
Taking the rectal temperature is recommended for very young patients under 1 years old.
When to see your doctor
Other than the fever temperature reading, it’s important to look at other symptoms and how unwell you feel.
You should see your doctor if you or a family member:
- has a very high fever (over 40ºC or 104ºF)
- is still feverish after three days of home treatment, or body condition seems to get worst
- is shivering or shaking uncontrollably, or has chattering teeth
- has a severe headache that doesn’t get better after taking painkillers
- is having trouble breathing
- is getting confused or is unusually drowsy.
When it’s urgent
See your doctor or go to the Emergency Department immediately if you notice the following symptoms (along with a fever):
- A stiff neck (they’re unable to put their chin on their chest or have pain when moving their neck forward)
- A skin rash
- A rapid heart rate.
Also get medical help if the person has a seizure (fit), or has signs of a seizure about to happen, such as regular twitching or jerking.
Most fevers last only three to four days – and a mild fever may not need any treatment at all.
Try these ideas if your fever is mild and you don’t have any other worrying symptoms:
- Drink plenty of of water (preferred) or other suitable fluids like juices or coconut water.
- Rest as much as possible.
- Wear light clothing and use lighter bedding. Keep the room well ventilated.
- Take occasional short shower with lukewarm water to help cool down body temperature. Don’t use any rapid cooling methods that may make you shiver. (The muscle movement in shivering will actually raise your temperature and can make your fever worse.)
- You can medicate with paracetamol or ibuprofen every four to six hours to help bring down the fever. (It is important not to get dehydrated if you take ibuprofen, as there is a risk of kidney disease.)
- Ask someone to monitor you regularly to make sure you’re OK.
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