When to Go to the Emergency Room for Fever

A fever is a common symptom that occurs when our body’s immune system is fighting off an infection. In most cases, a fever can be managed at home with rest, fluids, and over-the-counter medications. However, there are certain situations when a fever requires immediate medical attention. This article will guide you on when to go to the emergency room for a fever and provide answers to frequently asked questions.

When should you go to the emergency room for a fever?

1. High fever in infants: If your baby is less than three months old and has a rectal temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, seek immediate medical attention.

2. High fever in young children: If your child is between three months and three years old and has a fever of 102°F (38.9°C) or higher, it is advisable to visit the emergency room.

3. Persistent fever: If you or your child has had a fever for more than three days, it may indicate a more serious underlying condition that requires medical evaluation.

4. Severe symptoms: If the fever is accompanied by severe headache, stiff neck, difficulty breathing, chest pain, confusion, or seizures, it is crucial to seek emergency care.

5. Immune-compromised individuals: People with weakened immune systems, such as those undergoing chemotherapy or with HIV/AIDS, should seek immediate medical attention for any fever.

6. Recent travel: If you or someone you know has recently traveled to a region with known infectious diseases, and a fever develops, it is important to seek prompt medical care.

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7. Chronic medical conditions: Individuals with chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, or lung disease, should seek immediate medical attention if a fever develops.

8. Worsening symptoms: If the fever is associated with worsening symptoms, such as severe pain, rash, vomiting, or diarrhea, it is advisable to go to the emergency room.

9. Personal concern: Trust your instincts. If you are worried about yourself or your loved one’s health due to the fever, it is better to err on the side of caution and seek medical attention.


Q1: What is considered a high fever?
A1: A rectal temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher in infants and 102°F (38.9°C) or higher in children and adults is generally considered a high fever.

Q2: Can a fever be dangerous?
A2: While most fevers are harmless and part of the body’s defense mechanism, a high fever can sometimes indicate a serious infection or condition.

Q3: Should I go to the emergency room for a low-grade fever?
A3: A low-grade fever (below 100.4°F or 38°C) is usually not a cause for concern unless it persists for an extended period or is accompanied by other severe symptoms.

Q4: Will the emergency room treat my fever immediately?
A4: The emergency room prioritizes cases based on severity. While you may experience some wait time, medical professionals will assess and treat you as soon as possible.

Q5: What can I do to lower a fever before going to the emergency room?
A5: Take over-the-counter fever-reducing medication, drink plenty of fluids, and rest while waiting to be seen by a healthcare professional.

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Q6: Can a fever be a sign of COVID-19?
A6: Yes, fever is one of the common symptoms of COVID-19. If you suspect you have been exposed to the virus, it is essential to get tested and follow the guidelines provided by health authorities.

Q7: Is it safe to go to the emergency room during the COVID-19 pandemic?
A7: Hospitals and emergency rooms have implemented strict safety protocols to protect patients and staff. If you need urgent medical attention, do not hesitate to go to the emergency room.

Q8: Can stress or anxiety cause a fever?
A8: While stress and anxiety can cause various physical symptoms, they typically do not directly cause a fever.

Q9: Can I treat a fever at home?
A9: In most cases, a fever can be managed at home with rest, fluids, and over-the-counter fever-reducing medications. However, if you experience any of the mentioned red flags, seeking medical attention is crucial.

In conclusion, it is important to know when to go to the emergency room for a fever. While most fevers can be safely managed at home, certain circumstances require immediate medical attention. If you or your loved one experiences any of the mentioned red flags, do not hesitate to seek emergency care.