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When Does a Fever Require a Trip to the ER?

When you have a fever, your body temperature temporarily increases to 100.4°F or higher. This usually happens to fight off a viral or bacterial infection. Fever is part of your body’s immune response to help you recover. Fevers are an important part of how you can stay healthy in the event of an illness. You can often handle a fever at home with lots of rest, fluids, and over-the-counter medication, until it goes away within a few days.

Severe fevers in adults and children or fevers of any kind in infants and babies can require emergency medical care, especially when additional symptoms are present. Knowing when to make a trip to the ER for a fever can make a positive difference in your recovery and general health.

Symptoms to Watch Out for in Children with Fevers

If your baby or child experiences certain symptoms in addition to their fever, you should take them to the ER. Even low-grade fevers can be dangerous for infants and babies.

These symptoms include:

  • Changes in appetite
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disruption
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Rash or skin discoloration
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sluggishness
  • Dehydration
  • Abdominal pain
  • Stiff neck

If your baby is constantly crying or hasn’t received all their immunizations yet and has a fever, you should take them to the ER to keep them safe and healthy.

Many conditions can cause a fever in a child, including a common cold, the flu, strep throat, an ear infection, a stomach bug, and viral rashes like roseola or measles.

When Should You Go to the ER for a Fever as an Adult?

Most fevers go away on their own and many adults don’t worry when they have one, but in certain cases, seeking emergency medical attention is important.

You should go to the ER if you experience these additional symptoms:

  • Labored breathing
  • Chest, abdominal, or muscle pain
  • Headache or migraine
  • Confusion
  • Sensory overload
  • Skin rash
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Inability to eat or drink
  • Difficulty staying awake

If your fever is 103°F or higher or has been going on for more than three or four days, this usually requires emergency medical attention, even without extra symptoms.

A high fever as an adult can be due to:

  • Appendicitis
  • Flu
  • Pneumonia
  • Meningitis
  • Kidney infection
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

While viral and bacterial infections usually cause high fever in adults, a severe fever can also be due to other medical issues, including non-contagious conditions. This is why going to the ER can provide you with an accurate diagnosis.

What Fever Treatment Can You Get at the ER?

At Advanced ER, we provide compassionate and effective medical care 24/7. When you visit us for a severe fever or a regular one with additional symptoms, we perform a thorough physical examination. This helps us establish an accurate diagnosis for any underlying condition and find the appropriate treatment. If necessary, we have digital imaging and lab testing available. If you have any medical records or current prescriptions, we recommend you bring them.

Common treatments to bring down a fever are acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), Our providers may also prescribe antibiotics in certain situations.

Once you go home, we usually recommend that you get plenty of rest to speed up your recovery and stay hydrated, which helps keep you cool and comfortable.

If you or your child are experiencing a fever, call Advance ER at (214) 494-8222 or use our online form to reach a medical professional.