Fevers, and how to take a temperature

You have a fever, it’s OK!  Fever is one of those dreaded things that nobody wants. You feel cruddy when you have a fever, your kid is cranky, your body aches, and you want to curl up under a giant blanket, even if you are sweating. 🤒

Fever is your body’s way of telling you that you are fighting off an illness. Your immune system is eliciting a response from your body. The response is a fever. A fever is a good thing. Fever means your body is doing its job.

How do I know if I have a fever?

Temperatures over 100.4 degrees F are considered a true fever. 🤒 99 degrees is not a fever! If you have a temperature of 99 and you “run cold,” it’s still not a fever. But that also doesn’t mean you or your child aren’t gearing up to have one. Feeling chills, achy or warm to touch are all signs that fever is impending or that maybe your thermometer didn’t get an accurate reading.

Everyone will likely get a fever at some point in their life, some more than others. It’s ok! 

How to take a temperature

These are the main methods for checking your temperature:

  1. orally (by mouth) 🤒
  2. axillary (armpit) 💪🏼
  3. tympanic (ear) 👂🏻 
  4. Forehead 🤕
  5. rectal (butt) 🍑 

Temperature can vary depending on how you check it. In babies and some children, a rectal temperature can be a more accurate way to get a temp. 🤒

thermometer– how to take a temperatureTaking a temperature can be frustrating. You may have difficulty getting your toddler to sit still to check a temp. Your teen may have heated the thermometer on a lightbulb 💡 …There are frustrations with each type of thermometer on the market and with the various ways to take the temp. Don’t panic. 😳 As health care providers, we believe you when you tell us your child had a fever. It’s nice to know a general temp, like 103 vs 100, but the actual number isn’t as important as how long the person has been over 100.4, and what is happening along with the fever. 

Don’t go crazy buying the fanciest thermometers. The basic $4 thermometer is just as frustrating as the $99 one that also tells you your child’s heart rate and the time of their next poop. 

Getting a perfectly accurate temp is hard. Don’t add a degree. Don’t go crazy over taking temps. Just tell us how you got the temp. Let your provider figure out the rest. 😀

What is important to notice during fever

When you have a fever 🤒 we want to know what else is happening. What other symptoms are you or your child having. Does your child perk up when the fever decreases? Are they drinking? Getting up to play? Chat with us here at Nurse-1-1 and we can help you decide if you should get checked out!

Anyone with a fever who appears ill, isn’t able to drink, hasn’t peed for 6-8 hours, looks BAD 😵, or isn’t able to get up and about AT ALL needs to be seen by their doctor, an urgent care, or the ER.

If you or your child have NO symptoms other than fever 🤒 for more than 48-72 hours, then you should also be checked out

Most viruses will last about 7 days. Usually, a fever 🤒 with other symptoms that is caused by a virus will last only 4 days. ON the 4th day, the fever 🤒 should clear if this is JUST a virus. Your child’s symptoms may last a few days longer. If the fever lasts for 5 days, you should be seen to figure out why there are still ongoing fevers. Fevers lasting OVER 4 days often need to be worked up by a healthcare provider. 🏥

Remember fever means your body is doing its job. It’s easy to lose sight of this when you have a sick kiddo or you are feeling cruddy yourself! Drink lots of fluids, take a layer of clothes off, but keep cozy enough that you aren’t shivering, grab the TV remote and snuggle up on the couch 🛋 . Chat with us if you aren’t sure. Rest up and let that body work it’s magic and fight off those germy 🦠 bad guys! 

– Kim Liner, RN, MSN, CPNP

Nurse-1-1 Health Center is written by nurses in a straight to the point type of way to provide basic health information. We get a lot of people like you searching online for answers to health concerns or looking for a hotline to ask a nurse a few questions. Questions like how to choose a pediatrician? Do I have a cold sore or a canker, and is it contagiousDo antibiotics work on viral and bacterial infectionsHow to stop pertussis or whooping cough in babies. Well we can help. We put some info here for you to find while searching through all that other dry, scary medical information online. Stop that. Read our posts, or chat with us. This is not medical advice or a replacement for medical care, but see what we have to say with our free health information, and hopefully it will stop you from scaring yourself any more than you already have. We can help.