Health Questions and Answers

Question: What temperature constitutes a fever?

Answer:

We all wish we only had to remember one number; however, it varies depending on the patient:
1. In infants, 38°C (100.4°F) rectally constitutes a fever.
2. In adults, a temperature of 38.3°C (100.9°F) is a fever.
3. Certain patient populations may be exceptions, and this should be taken into account (e.g., elderly, IV drug users, and immunocompromised patients).
4. A temperature of 41.5°C (106.7°F) usually represents hyperthermia and not a true fever.

Reference: Loveys AA, Dutko-Fioravanti 1, Everly SW, et al: Comparison of ear to rectal temperature measurements in infants and toddlers. Clin Pediatr (Phila) 38:463-466, 1999

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