On average, the human body temperature is 98.6 degrees F. However, normal adult body temperatures range from 97 to 99. Your temperature can fluctuate and varies based on your age and the method used to measure your temperature. A fever is when your body temperature is higher than normal. Most healthcare providers consider a fever to be at 100.4 or higher.
This article reviews normal human body temperature and fever based on age, how it varies with measurement methods, symptoms and at-home fever treatment, and when to call a healthcare provider.
Is 98.6 Degrees a Normal Temperature?
The average human body temperature is 98.6. However, this is just an average and varies among people. Several factors can affect body temperature, including age, sex, and where on your body you take it.
Your baseline daily temperature is a good reference point, and everyone's unique. For example, your daily average temperature could be around 97 degrees while your friend's average temperature is 98.7.Across a person's life span, healthy, normal body temperature ranges in degrees Fahrenheit are from 96 to 99.9 as follows:
Infants and Children
A baby or child’s normal temperature varies based on age as follows:
- Preterm newborns: 97.7–98.6
- Term newborns: 97.2–99.9
- Babies less than 6 months old: 97.2–99.9
- 6–12 months: 96–99.4
- 1–13 years: 95.9–99
The normal body temperature range for teens and adults is 97–99. People over age 60 have slightly lower temperatures than those younger than 60.
Average Temperature by Method
Body temperature differs based on where on your body you take your temperature.
Central temperature measurement sites include the rectum (anus) or urine. They are the closest to your core (internal) temperature. But they can be invasive and are typically reserved for young infants or people who are severely ill.
Peripheral sites include oral (mouth), axillary (armpit), or tympanic (ear). Environmental temperature can influence these areas, so they are slightly less accurate than central sites. However, they are more accessible and practical for daily use.
Oral temperatures are taken in the mouth. The room temperature, hot or cold liquids, and probe placement can influence oral temperatures. One study showed a variation of 3.6 degrees between oral and rectal temperatures. Normal and average oral temperatures are:
- Normal range: 96.3–99.3
- Average: 97.8
Tympanic (ear) thermometers are fast and easy to use. They can vary a couple of degrees between ears and in comparison to a rectal temperature. Normal and average tympanic temperatures are:
- Normal range: 96.4–99.5
- Average: 97.9
Axillary temperatures are taken under the arm. They are affected by the external environment and vary from rectal temperatures. Normal and average axillary temperatures are:
- Normal range: 95.1–98.4
- Average: 96.7
Rectal (in the anus) temperature most accurately measures the core temperature. They are typically about 1 degree higher than oral readings. Healthcare providers commonly use rectal temperature measurements for babies less than 3 months old. Normal and average rectal temperatures are:
- Normal range: 97.3–99.9
- Average: 98.6
Fever During Pregnancy
It’s normal to have a slightly elevated temperature during pregnancy. But, you should report a fever (temperature over 100.4 degrees) to your healthcare provider. A fever could indicate an illness such as the flu or COVID-19. Your healthcare provider may want to order tests, prescribe medications, or monitor you carefully.
The 6 Best Thermometers of 2023 for Home Use
What’s Considered a Fever?
A fever is when your body temperature is higher than normal and is usually a response to a disease or illness. Fevers are graded as mild, high, and very high as follows:
- Elevated body temperature: 99.5–100.4
- Low-grade fever: 100.4 or higher
- High-grade fever: 103
- Very high or dangerous: Above 105
The following is how a fever is defined in children based on where the temperature is taken:
- Rectal: Above 100.4
- Oral: Above 99.5
- Axillary: Above 99
Guidelines for seeking medical attention, based on age, are:
- 3 months or younger: Rectal temperature over 100.4
- 3–12 months: 102.2 or higher
- 12 months to 2 years: 103 or higher, despite treatment or any fever that lasts longer than 24–48 hours
- 2 years and older: 103 or higher, despite treatment or any fever lasting longer than 48–72 hours
The following guidelines for seeking medical attention for a fever apply to any age, including adults:
- An elevated temperature that comes and goes for a week or more, even if it’s not considered a fever
- Other symptoms of illness, along with the fever
- People with any grade of fever who have had an organ transplant or a serious medical illness
- Those who have recently traveled to another country
Low Body Temperatures
While people often are concerned with elevated temperatures and fevers, it’s important to note that low body temperatures could signify a health condition, as well, especially in infants.
A low body temperature in infants could indicate a serious illness called meningitis. A rectal temperature is the most accurate for infants younger than 3 months old.
When Is a Fever Considered a Medical Emergency?
Seek emergency medical attention for a fever rising above 103 degrees despite treatment. Getting medical attention before temperatures reach 105 degrees is crucial because they become more dangerous after 105. Treating temperatures before they reach 105 typically leads to better outcomes.
What Causes a Low Temperature?
Symptoms of Fever
Symptoms of a fever can be constant or intermittent (come and go). They include:
- Feeling warm or hot
- Skin warm to touch
- Flushed face
- Tired eyes
If the following symptoms occur along with a fever, they could indicate an underlying health problem that requires medical attention:
- Malaise (generally feeling unwell), especially if occurring with a fever
- Decreased urine output or dark urine
- Persistent nausea or vomiting
- Persistent constipation or diarrhea
- Stiff neck
- Fever that has persisted for more than 48 hours
Regardless of their body temperature, the following signs and symptoms indicate an infant, child, or nonverbal adult should receive medical attention:
- Behavioral changes (such as being less alert, not smiling, not playing, prolonged extreme fussiness or agitation)
- Decreased appetite or refusing food
- Abnormal skin color
- Decreased urine output
- Changes in bowel pattern
- Breathing difficulties
- Passing out
Treating a Fever at Home
Here are a few remedies that may help treat a fever at home:
- Drink plenty of fluids, including water, ice pops, soup, and gelatin.
- Take over-the-counter (OTC) fever-reducing medications such as Advil or Motrin (ibuprofen) or Tylenol (acetaminophen).
- Place a cool towel under the arms, behind the neck, and on the forehead.
- Take a lukewarm (not hot, but not overly cold) bath.
- Keep the room temperature comfortable, not overly hot or cool.
- Remove excess clothing or blankets.
The following are safety considerations when treating a fever at home:
- Avoid giving medications to infants 3 months or younger before calling your child's provider.
- Do not use ibuprofen in children 6 months or younger.
- Do not give aspirin to a child unless your child's provider tells you to. It can cause a serious illness called Reye's syndrome.
- Avoid bundling with multiple blankets or jackets, even if you, another adult, or a child has the chills.
- Do not use cold baths, ice, or alcohol baths as they can cause shivering and increase core body temperature, which can be dangerous. Lukewarm baths are fine and helpful.
- Avoid too much sugar when taking in fluids.
- Do not force food on someone who is refusing it.
Associated Factors in “Normal” Temperature Readings
As mentioned above, age, temperature measurement site, and the time of day factor into your normal body temperature. Sex also plays a role. People assigned female at birth tend to have higher temperatures. This also fluctuates during their menstrual cycle, ovulation, and pregnancy.
Other factors include:
- Physical activity
- Stress or other strong emotions
- When you eat
- Heavy clothing or blankets
- Hot or humid environments
- Health conditions, including hypothyroidism, autoimmune disorders, and some types of cancer
- Immunization (children may have a low-grade fever)
- Teething (elevated temperature, not usually get higher than 100)
- Some medications
The average human body temperature is 98.6 degrees F. Healthy, normal body temperatures range from 96 to 99.9 and vary across the life span. Several factors can affect body temperature, including age, sex, and where on your body you take it.
A body temperature over 100.4 is considered a low-grade fever, temperatures over 103 are a high-grade fever, and temperatures over 105 become more dangerous, especially if untreated.
A Word From Verywell
Fevers occur when your body is fighting an infection. They often resolve in a few days. But, high-grade or prolonged fevers can indicate a serious underlying health problem. If you or your loved one has a high-grade or prolonged fever, notify your healthcare provider. Infants three months or younger with a rectal temperature over 100.4 should see a healthcare provider.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is 98.8 degrees F a fever?
No, 98.8 falls within the normal body temperature range and is not considered a fever. Temperatures that are 100.4 or more are considered a fever.
Learn More:What Is a Low-Grade Fever?(Video) Why Is My Body Temperature 37 Degrees?
What’s a high fever temp from COVID-19?
When COVID-19 causes a fever, it’s typically a low- or medium-grade fever. This means it falls between 100.4 and 103.
Learn More:Do I Have a Cold or COVID?
How do you bring down a fever?
There are several techniques you can try to bring down a fever. These include lukewarm baths, a cool cloth under the arms or on the forehead, and removing excess blankets or jackets. You can also try OTC fever-reducing medications, such as Advil or Motrin (ibuprofen), or Tylenol (acetaminophen).
Learn More:An Overview of Fevers(Video) At what temperature do you have a fever?
The average normal body temperature is generally accepted as 98.6°F (37°C). Some studies have shown that the "normal" body temperature can have a wide range, from 97°F (36.1°C) to 99°F (37.2°C).Is 96.8 A Normal temperature? ›
Normal body temperature is around 98.6 F (37 C). Hypothermia (hi-poe-THUR-me-uh) occurs as your body temperature falls below 95 F (35 C).What is the normal body temperature quizlet? ›
The core body temperature remains relatively constant within the range of 36.5° to 37.5° C (97.6° to 99.6° F); the average oral temperature is 37° C (98.6° F).Is 99.1 a temperature? ›
An adult probably has a fever when the temperature is above 99°F to 99.5°F (37.2°C to 37.5°C), depending on the time of day.Is 99.5 a normal temperature? ›
Normal body temperature ranges from 97.5°F to 99.5°F (36.4°C to 37.4°C). It tends to be lower in the morning and higher in the evening. Most healthcare providers consider a fever to be 100.4°F (38°C) or higher. A person with a temperature of 99.6°F to 100.3°F has a low-grade fever.Why is my temp 96? ›
One common reason your thermometer may read 96°F (35.55°C) is because you took your temperature incorrectly. Make sure you are following the manufacturer's instructions for your thermometer. Consider any factors that could have led to an inaccurate temperature.Is 96.6 a low fever? ›
A temperature of 96 degrees is considered low. (For most adults, around 97 to 99 degrees is normal.) Since a low body temperature can be a sign of a medical condition, it's best to see your healthcare provider.Is a temperature of 97.1 low? ›
For a typical adult, body temperature can be anywhere from 97 F to 99 F. Babies and children have a little higher range: 97.9 F to 100.4 F.
The medical community generally defines a fever as a body temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. A body temp between 100.4 and 102.2 degree is usually considered a low-grade fever.What is the fever level for COVID-19? ›
Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19: Fever greater than 99.9F or chills. Cough.
The most common reason for a person to have chills with no fever is because of cold weather. If a person is not wearing sufficient layers and the air temperature is low, they may experience chills. If a person is wearing wet clothes, they will feel cold more quickly.Why does my body feel hot but no fever? ›
Why do I feel hot but have no fever? Fever typically makes a person feel hot, but environmental and lifestyle factors, medications, age, hormones, and certain emotional states can all raise body temperature without having a fever. Depending on the cause, a person who feels hot may sweat excessively or not sweat at all.Is 99.6 a fever in adults Covid? ›
For COVID-19, a fever is considered 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit or above for most people, and 99.6 degrees Fahrenheit and above for anyone 65 years and older or people who are immunosuppressed.How to get rid of chills? ›
How are chills treated? Layering clothes or getting to a warm place can make cold chills go away. You can also drink hot chocolate, coffee or tea to raise your internal body temperature. If an illness, infection or another health problem causes chills, treating the condition should get rid of the symptom.What body temp is too low? ›
Definition. Hypothermia is dangerously low body temperature, below 95°F (35°C).Should I worry if my temperature is low? ›
If your core body temperature dips down to 95 F (35 C) or lower, that's considered hypothermia. It's often caused by exposure to cold weather, but there are other factors that can put you at risk for hypothermia, such as age and certain medications.What temperature is sepsis? ›
An affected person is considered to have sepsis if they meet two or more of the SIRS criteria, which are: Fever of 38 C / 100.4 F or more. Hypothermia of 36 C / 96.8 F or less. A pulse of more than 90 beats a minute.Why am I always cold? ›
You may get cold easily due to certain health conditions, including anemia, dehydration, or vitamin deficiency. Treatment can depend on the cause. Everyone's body has a slightly different reaction to cold, and some people feel cold more often than others. This is called cold intolerance.Should I go to work with a fever of 99? ›
All employees should stay home if they are sick until at least 24 hours after their fever* (temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 37.8 degrees Celsius or higher) is gone. Temperature should be measured without the use of fever-reducing medicines (medicines that contains ibuprofen or acetaminophen).At what temperature should an adult go to the hospital? ›
Adults. Call your health care provider if your temperature is 103 F (39.4 C) or higher. Seek immediate medical attention if any of these signs or symptoms accompanies a fever: Severe headache.
Some experts define a low-grade fever as a temperature that falls between 99.5°F (37.5°C) and 100.3°F (38.3°C). According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a person with temperature at or above 100.4°F (38°C) is considered to have a fever.What is a normal temperature for a 72 year old? ›
Over 65 years: Some older adults may have a lower baseline temperature than younger people. A normal oral temperature for this age group is 96.4–98.5°F (35.7–36.9°C).Is 96.3 F normal? ›
Dear D.C.: Normal body temperature varies, both during the day (morning temperatures are lowest), among people (normal values in young adults range from 96 F to 100.8 F, and across ages, with older people tending to have lower body temperatures by 0.4 F. So, 97 F is not necessarily unusual.Is 97.0 a normal temperature? ›
“Normal body temperature may be slightly higher or lower than 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit,” Taroyan says. “For a typical adult, body temperature can be anywhere from 97 to 99 degrees Fahrenheit.”Is a low-grade temp normal with Covid? ›
Fever seems to be one of the more common early markers of COVID-19, Kline noted. But you shouldn't necessarily expect a high-grade fever with dangerously elevated temperatures. Many people with the disease run a low-grade fever for days, she said, and some may have no fever at all.Which of the following are the common signs of infection from COVID-19 disease i fever ii cough iii pneumonia iv shortness of breath? ›
Symptoms can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia or breathing difficulties. More rarely, the disease can be fatal. These symptoms are similar to the flu (influenza) or the common cold, which are a lot more common than COVID-19.What vitamin deficiency causes you to feel cold? ›
Lack of vitamin B12 and iron deficiency can cause anemia and lead you to feel cold. Good sources of B12 are chicken, eggs and fish, and people with iron deficiency may want to seek out poultry, pork, fish, peas, soybeans, chickpeas and dark green leafy vegetables.How do you break a fever? ›
You can break a fever by getting plenty of rest, drinking fluids, using blankets if you have shivers or an ice pack if you're too hot, and by taking medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.Can you be sick without a fever? ›
However, many people who are sick with influenza virus infection do not manifest fever, especially those who are elderly or immunosuppressed.How long does a fever last? ›
Most fevers will improve on their own in a few days. However, there are a number of things you can do to help the uncomfortable feelings associated with a fever.
Psychogenic fever is a stress-related, psychosomatic disease especially seen in young women. Some patients develop extremely high core body temperature (Tc) (up to 41°C) when they are exposed to emotional events, whereas others show persistent low-grade high Tc (37–38°C) during situations of chronic stress.Why am I sweating one minute and freezing the next? ›
Cold sweats can be caused by a number of factors—anxiety, pain, hormonal fluctuations, low blood sugar, or infections, he says. On the serious side, cold sweats can signal a condition, like cancer, especially when you're sweating at night. Sudden sweating can also be one of the first signs of a heart attack.Is 96 a normal temperature? ›
Is it normal to have a temperature of 96 degrees? A temperature of 96 degrees is considered low. (For most adults, around 97 to 99 degrees is normal.) Since a low body temperature can be a sign of a medical condition, it's best to see your healthcare provider.Is a normal temperature 97 a fever? ›
Despite the new research, doctors don't consider you to have a fever until your temperature is at or above 100.4 F. But you can be sick if it's lower than that.Is 100 a high temperature? ›
Body temperatures vary slightly from person to person and at different times of day. The average temperature has traditionally been defined as 98.6 F (37 C). A temperature taken using a mouth thermometer (oral temperature) that's 100 F (37.8 C) or higher is generally considered to be a fever.Is 101 a high temperature? ›
The medical community generally defines a fever as a body temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. A body temp between 100.4 and 102.2 degree is usually considered a low-grade fever. “If the temperature is not high, it doesn't necessarily need to be treated with medication,” Dr. Joseph said.Why is my temperature 97? ›
So, 97 F is not necessarily unusual. However, certain medical conditions can cause the temperature to be abnormally low. Low thyroid blood levels certainly can make temperatures lower, as can other endocrine abnormalities (especially diabetes, pituitary gland problems and adrenal insufficiency).What if my temperature is 95? ›
A body temperature under 95°F (35°C) is a medical emergency and can be fatal if not promptly treated. If the person has symptoms of hypothermia and a temperature cannot be taken, call 911.Why do I feel hot but my temp is 97? ›
It's possible to feel feverish but not be running an actual temperature. Underlying medical conditions, hormone fluctuations, and lifestyle may all contribute to these feelings. Feeling feverish or hot may be one of the first signs of having a fever. But sometimes you may feel like you have a fever when you do not.What happens if your temp is below 97? ›
Hypothermia is a condition that occurs when the body's temperature drops below 95° F (35° C). Normal body temperature is 98.6° F (37° C). Hypothermia is a medical emergency. When a person's body temperature is dangerously low, the brain and body cannot function properly.
The average body temperature is 98.6 F (37 C). But normal body temperature can range between 97 F (36.1 C) and 99 F (37.2 C) or more. Your body temperature can vary depending on how active you are or the time of day.How high does Covid-19 fever get? ›
Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19: Fever greater than 99.9F or chills. Cough.What is a fever temperature for Covid-19? ›
temperature equal to or more than 38°C. feeling feverish. chills. fatigue or weakness.What fever is too high for COVID? ›
If you're over 65 or immunocompromised — especially if you may have been exposed to COVID-19 — call your doctor if your fever reaches 101°. Anyone with a fever of 103° or higher should do the same. And if your temperature reaches 105°, go straight to an emergency room.Is 101.2 a fever with Covid? ›
Emergency signs of COVID
Seek medical attention immediately if you notice: Fever higher than 102 degrees F in children or 103 degrees F in adults.
Fever: Coronavirus and flu both cause fever, but it's rare for the common cold. COVID-19 patients usually have a fever of 100 F or higher, while flu sufferers often experience fever of 100F to 102F that lasts three to four days. Headache: COVID-19 patients sometimes have headaches.Should I go to the ER if my temp is 101? ›
105°F – Go to the emergency room. 103°F or higher – Contact your health care provider. 101°F or higher – If you're immunocompromised or over 65 years of age, and are concerned that you've been exposed to COVID-19, contact your health care provider.