A fever is a temporary spike in a person’s body temperature. Increasing its temperature is one way the body tries to fight infections, which is why fevers typically occur when a person is ill.
Whether people should see a medical provider about a fever depends on many different factors. In addition to the temperature of the fever, a person’s age, general health, and other medical conditions must be taken into account.
Generally speaking, adults who are otherwise healthy don’t need to see a medical provider for a slightly elevated body temperature that’s just a little over 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the body’s normal temperature. For any temperature that’s more than a degree or so over 98.6, though, adults should consult a medical provider. The fever may be no cause for concern, but deciding whether it is should be left to a trained nurse, physician’s assistant, or doctor.
Adults who suffer from a medical condition and children should have a lower threshold for seeking medical help. If the immune system is compromised or not yet fully developed, it’s important to catch any potential infection sooner rather than later.
Parents of infants should be particularly quick to contact a medical provider if their baby’s temperature increases even just a little. Not only are infants’ immune systems immature, but most young babies aren’t fully vaccinated. Their body could have trouble fighting an illness, and a fever could be a sign of a serious infection. Identifying the cause sooner rather than later will ensure the infant receives any medical treatment they need.
Patients who have a fever should look for a medical provider who can see them quickly. The longer a fever is allowed to linger, the worse the person’s illness could get. If treatment is necessary, being evaluated as soon as possible will ensure prompt treatment.