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

Signs & Symptoms

A fever means that body temperature is higher than:


•  99°F (37.2°C) under the arm.

•  99.5°F (37.5°C) by mouth or ear.

•  100.4°F (38°C) by rectum. Rectal temperatures are advised for infants.

Don’t use a glass mercury thermometer. If it breaks, droplets of toxic mercury can be released. If this happens, don’t use a vacuum or broom to clean up the mercury. Call your local health or fire department to find out what to do.


Fever is usually a sign of another problem, such as an infection.


Body temperature changes during the day. It is usually lowest in the morning and highest in the late afternoon and evening. Other factors can increase body temperature. These include:

•  Wearing too much clothing.

•  Exercise.

•  Hot, humid weather.

•  Taking a temperature by mouth after drinking a hot liquid, like tea.


Treatment includes self-care measures and treating the cause.

Questions to Ask

Self-Care / Prevention

•  Drink lots of fluids, such as fruit juice, water, etc.

•  Take a sponge bath with warm (about 70ºF) water. Don’t use cold or cool water. Don’t use rubbing alcohol.

•  Take the right dose of an over-the-counter medicine to reduce fever, as directed.

•  Rest.

•  Don’t do heavy exercise.

•  Don’t wear too many clothes. Don’t use too many blankets.

This website is not meant to substitute for expert medical advice or treatment. Follow your doctor’s or health care provider’s advice if it differs from what is given in this guide.


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