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What temperature is a fever | Amazrock Editorial Guide

What temperature is a fever?


What temperature is a fever – The Amazrock Guide explains how to compare and correlate the different temperature readings by ear, rectal, oral & forehead thermometer.


  1. How to tell a fever and what temperature is a fever?
  2. What is a Fever? | Understanding fever
  3. How should someone measure fever temperature?
  4. Fever Temperature Measurement Guide – Correlation Chart
  5. When to see your doctor | The Amazrock Guide
  6. Self-care | The Amazrock Guide


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How to tell a fever?


What temp is considered 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


A Note from The Amazrock Guide | Strictly speaking from a medical perspective, it is only considered a significant fever when the body temperature rises to more than 38.0 °C (100.4 °F).



What is a Fever? | The Amazrock Guide to Understanding fever


Here is the question that we often take for granted:  ” Exactly, what is a fever? “.


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.


  • It is helpful to know that fever raises body temperature to help the body fight off infections. When we fall sick, our body is trying to fight off the infection by raising the body temperature. This is because viruses and bacteria cannot survive at a higher temperature.


  • You may want to note that fever is a good and normal body reaction mechanism. However, we should be careful of very high body temperatures (more than 39.5 °C or 103.1 °F). At this temperature, it 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 37°C or 99.5°F which is in the normal range.



Fever symptoms – What temperature is a fever? 


What should your temperature be if you are experiencing a mild or high fever? What temperature is a fever?

Mild fever (38.0–38.9°C or 100.4-102.2 °F)

Symptoms: You may feel a lethargic weakness and experience flushed cheek.  The body can be warm to the 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. The body can be hot to touch and you may experience 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 a high fever, you would likely feel drowsy fatigue and want to stay in bed (be inactive).



How to tell if your child has a fever?

You can often tell by a hunch that a child has a fever just by looking at them. Many parents who suspect that their child has a fever first place their hand on the child’s forehead. If the child’s forehead or neck feels hot, it could be a sign of fever. Many children lose their appetite or cry a lot. Some are very thirsty too.


Typical signs include a hot, red face, tired or glazed eyes, and otherwise pale skin.


Frequently Asked Questions

1.  Is 100.9F considered mild fever or normal body temperature? 

[Answer]: Using the formula (100.9°F − 32) × 5/9, you would find a body temperature of 100.9F to C = 38.3°Celcius. This may be considered a mild fever.

2.  What to know about 103.8F body temperature?

[Answer]: Using the formula (103.8°F − 32) × 5/9, you would find a body temperature of 103.8F to C = 39.9°Celcius. Clinicians would consider such cases as a high fever that requires medical attention.

3.  Is 97.7 a fever? 

[Answer]: A body temperature of 97.7F is NOT considered a fever. The normal human body temperature is around 97.7–99.5 degrees Fahrenheit (36.5-37. 5 °C).



How to Measure Body Temperature? | What temperature is a fever


A digital thermometer can be used to check the body temperature to see whether a person has a fever.



How to measure body temperature and tell the fever


There are 2 ways to measure body temperature :

  1. Core temperature (temperature of deep tissues)
    • Method of measurement – oral cavity, ear canal, rectum


  1. 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 the use of mercury thermometers (glass). They also encourage parents to remove mercury thermometers from their households 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 from the various fever measurement methods are as follows :

  • The average normal oral temperature is 98.6°F (37°C).


  • Ear or Rectal 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. Forehead temperature is relatively lower when compared with ear or rectal temperature measurement.


” 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 consistent and proper comparison data. “



Fever Temperature Measurement – Correlation Chart | The Amazrock Guide


The Amazrock Guide offers a fever temperature chart comparison below that shows how to correlate the different temperature readings by ear, rectal, oral & forehead thermometer. You can use this chart to guide you in telling what temperature is a fever.


By using this fever temperature chart, you can correlate the temperature range taken with the different methods (Surface Body and Inner Core Temperature Measurement). Please note that the below fever temperature chart is offered as a guide ONLY and there may be a slight variation from the actual readings.



Fever Temperature Chart by Fahrenheit 

Correlated Comparison of fever temperature in Fahrenheit by method

Surface Temperature Inner Core Temperature
Forehead (°F) Oral (°F) Rectal/Ear (°F)
98.4 to 99.3 99.5 to 99.9 100.4 to 101
99.4 to 101.1 100.4 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



Fever Temperature Chart by Celsius 

Correlated Comparison of fever temperature in Celsius by method

Surface Temperature Inner Core Temperature
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 correlate 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 equivalent rectal or ear temperature may be about 102°F (38.9°C). Remember, a child has a fever when his or her temperature is higher than 100.4°F (37.8°C), measured orally.


  • If your forehead temperature is 100°F (37.8°C), your equivalent 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 is considered a High Fever?


It is considered a High Fever when the patient has a forehead temperature fever that exceeds 100.4°F/38°C.


What is Considered as High Fever | Surface Body Temperature Measurement


Any surface body temperature (forehead or armpit measured) above 100.4°F or 38 degrees Celsius can be considered a high feverThe equivalent temperature reference of 100.4°F/38°C if measured with an oral thermometer is probably around 100.9 to 101.4°F (38.3 to 38.6°C).


The correlating body core temperature is likely to range around 102.2°F (39.0°C) and higher if measured with an ear or rectal thermometer. This would mean a high fever.




What is Considered as High Fever | Oral Temperature Measurement


What is a High Oral temperature?

It’s considered a fever if the patient has an oral temperature greater than 37.8 degrees Celsius.

An oral temperature that is above 101.4°F/38.6°C means a High Fever.


Oral temperature measurement has been the traditional method used at clinics and homes. Doctors and nurses are known to recommend oral thermometers to measure the temperature of all patients.


The exception is when they are unconscious, have mental confusion, seizures, nasal, mouth or throat disorders, and if they are children under 6 years old.


With the advance in digital thermometer technology, the ear thermometer is fast becoming the popular method to get an accurate inner body temperature. The ear thermometer is hygienic and also very closely correlated when compared to rectal temperature measurement.



What is Considered as High Fever | Ear or Rectal Temperature Measurement


It’s considered a fever if the patient has an ear or rectal temperature over 38.3 degrees Celsius.

An ear or rectal temperature that ranges above 102.2°F (39.0°C) can be considered as High Fever.


* Taking the rectal temperature with a rectal thermometer is recommended for very young patients under 1 year old.



When to see your doctor about your fever | The Amazrock Guide


What are the considerations to seek medical help regarding your fever?


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
  • has chattering teeth, or is shivering or shaking uncontrollably
  • develops a severe headache that doesn’t get better after taking painkillers
  • is having trouble breathing
  • starts to become unusually drowsy or is getting confused.


When it’s urgent | The Amazrock Guide

See your doctor or go to the Emergency Department immediately if you notice the following symptoms (along with a fever):

  • Hallucinations
  • Vomiting
  • 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.


Please seek immediate medical help if the person has a seizure (fit), or has signs of a seizure about to happen. Signs of seizure are normally observed as uncontrollable twitching or jerking.




Self-care | The Amazrock Guide


Most fevers last only three to four days. As a result, 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 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 an 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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