Coronavirus Symptoms: What Temperature Is a Fever?

Fever thermometer

Getty A student checks his temperature.

The coronavirus is at the front of everyone’s minds now because of how much it’s affected society. People are spending most of their time indoors in isolation or social distancing. The CDC and other health organizations have been clear that fever is one of the main symptoms of the coronavirus.

It’s normal to be concerned about having a headache and feeling slightly feverish, especially now. Because of this, a lot of people have been wondering what temperature constitutes a fever. The CDC’s definition of a fever is when an adult has a measured temperature of at least 100.4 °F (38 °C).

However, the CDC also mentions that “fever may be considered to be present if a person has not had a temperature measurement but feels warm to the touch, or gives a history of feeling feverish.”


Body Temperature Can Vary From Person to Person & Can Change Throughout the Day

The Harvard Medical School also states that fever is when a body’s temperature reaches 100.4 °F (38 °C) or higher (for adults). They say that a person’s average body temperature is 98.6 °F (37 °C).

Normal body temperature can vary, however, depending on the person, the time of day, when they’ve eaten last and exercised. In fact, they state that “Body temperature is often higher in the afternoon than it is when you wake up in the morning.”

As per Healthline, low-grade fever is during the period when an adult’s body temperature rises to 100.4 °F (38 °C), or a bit lower. A high-grade fever is when the fever rises to 103 °F (39.4 °C) or higher.


Fever Is a Useful Symptom That ‘Increases Our Immune Response’

Dr. Paul Offit, the Director of the Vaccine Education Center and an attending physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told Heavy that fever is a desirable symptom.

He said that neither paracetamol nor ibuprofen should be taken when someone has a fever, because “the better recommendation would be to say don’t use either.” Human bodies make fever to “increase our immune response, pretty much across the board.” Dr. Offit continued, explaining that the “immune response works better at a higher temperature.”

Dr. Offit also explained that fever-reducing medicines, known as antipyretics, can in fact “prolong and worsen the illness.” He also pointed out a study that was completed comparing societies that treated fever to those that didn’t.

In the case of societies that treated fever, a lot more people felt better due to the antipyretics so left their homes, but they were actually still shedding the virus. This meant that there was a “far greater amount of disease, hospitalization, and frankly death,” Dr. Offit explained.

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