At What Point Should I See A Doctor If I Have A Fever?

Dr. Bernstein answers the question: 'I Have A Fever. Should I See A Doctor?'

ByLisa Bernstein, M.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine, Emory University
September 25, 2008, 9:54 AM

— -- Question: At What Point Should I See A Doctor If I Have A Fever?

Answer: A lot of people are afraid of fever. But what you have to realize is that fever is purely a symptom of a cold or the flu, which are some infectious manifestations of viruses or bacteria and other things when we see infection. So, the cold and the flu are caused by viruses. And the fever is just the body's natural reaction to fighting off that virus.

When you have a fever, which is very common, you absolutely don't have to go running to the doctor. But there are some things to think about. In young children and the elderly especially, if they mount a fever of 104 or greater, or have any other symptoms associated with that, such as febrile seizures in children, you definitely want to seek medical attention. If the fever goes on for more than a couple of days or is associated with any other concerning symptoms like shortness of breath or headache or neck stiffness that could be a sign of something more significant like a meningitis, then you absolutely want to go and seek medical attention as well.

For a pure fever, however, that lasts only a day or two and makes you feel uncomfortable but doesn't have any dangerous side effects, all you need to do is stay hydrated, try to take an over-the-counter medication such as acetomeniphine or an anti-inflammatory medication that can lower your temperature and try to stay as comfortable as possible.

Next: What Are Some Complications That Can Result From The Flu?

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