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A primary care physician talks with her male patient about his wellness plan while they wear masks.

Understanding fever and its causes

A fever is a temporary rise in body temperature, often in response to an infection, inflammation, or other underlying condition. It's a natural immune response to help the body fight off pathogens and promote healing. A fever can feel like warmth, chills, body aches, and fatigue. Different levels of fever include:

  • Low-grade (100.4-102.1°F): Mild discomfort.

  • Moderate (102.2-104°F): Increased discomfort, shivering.

  • High (104.1-106°F): Severe chills, sweating, weakness.

  • Hyperpyrexia (above 106°F): Serious symptoms, seek medical help.


Fever can be caused by various factors, typically stemming from the body's immune response to infections, inflammation, or other underlying conditions. Some common causes of fever include:

  • Infections

  • Inflammatory conditions

  • Heat exhaustion

  • Medications

  • Autoimmune diseases

  • Cancer

  • Post-surgical response

  • Vaccinations

  • Injury or trauma

  • Teething


Tips to get rid of fever symptoms

Relieving symptoms of a low-grade fever involves a combination of self-care measures to help your body recover and manage discomfort. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids, such as water, clear soups, and herbal teas, to stay hydrated and prevent dehydration, which can worsen fever.

  • Rest: Get adequate rest to allow your body to focus on fighting off the underlying cause of the fever.

  • Maintain comfortable temperature: Dress in lightweight, breathable clothing and use light bedding to help regulate your body temperature. Avoid excessive bundling or overheating.

  • Cool compresses: Apply cool, damp cloths or use cool compresses on your forehead, neck, and underarms to help lower body temperature and provide relief.

  • Over-the-counter medications: Non-prescription fever-reducing medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), can help lower fever and alleviate discomfort. Follow the recommended dosages and guidelines.

  • Hygiene: Wash your hands regularly to prevent the spread of infections and maintain good overall hygiene.

  • Nutrition: Eat a balanced diet rich in nutrients to support your immune system. Foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help your body recover.

  • Avoid overexertion: Engage in light activities, but avoid strenuous exercises that could raise your body temperature further.

  • Monitor symptoms: Keep track of your temperature and other symptoms. If your fever persists or worsens, or if you experience severe symptoms, seek medical attention by scheduling an appointment with a St. Joseph Health primary care provider.


When to see a doctor with a fever

You should consider seeing a doctor about a fever in the following situations:

  • High fever

  • Prolonged fever

  • Severe symptoms

  • Underlying health conditions

  • Travel or exposure

  • Infants

  • Chronic medical conditions

  • Worsening symptoms

  • Age considerations

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