You may be able to break a fever at home with rest, hydration, and over-the-counter medications. But a person with a high fever may need medical attention.

People may refer to a fever as hyperthermia, pyrexia, or elevated temperature. It is a state of heightened body temperature commonly occurring as a reaction to an illness. Fevers can also result from sunburn or from getting immunizations.

People with compromised immune systems may tend to have fevers more often than others.

Fevers are typically temporary and resolve independently. However, severe fevers can indicate a serious underlying condition and be a medical emergency.

This article discusses how to assess a fever’s severity and ways to break a fever at home.

If you or someone you’re caring for has a fever, follow these steps to break the fever:

  • Stay in bed and rest.
  • Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water to replenish lost fluids.
  • Take over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen to reduce fever.
  • Stay cool by removing extra layers of clothing and blankets unless you have the chills.
  • Avoid contact with others until the fever resolves.

How long does it take to break a fever?

Most fevers go away on their own within a few days. That said, in cases of severe or persistent fever, emergency assistance may be necessary.

Fevers aren’t one-size-fits-all, and neither are their symptoms. Your comfort level and symptoms can help you decide how to treat a fever. If you have a fever, you may experience the following symptoms:

A person’s body average body temperature can vary depending on age, sex, activity level, and the site at which a temperature is taken. For example, a body temperature reading at a person’s ear, mouth, or armpit will yield different results.

Below are average body temperature values by demographic and temperature site.

0–12 months95.8–99.3°F
Adults over age 6593–98.6°F


Learn more about body temperature and its measurement here.

Many pediatricians recommend using rectal thermometers for infants and babies. Discuss with your doctor which type of thermometer to use. You should also tell them what kind of thermometer you used to record your child’s temperature.

Temperature ranges for fever

Below are typical body temperature ranges that may indicate fever in adults:

  • Low fever: 99.1–100.4°F (37.3–38.0°C)
  • Moderate fever: 100.6–102.2°F (38.1–39.0°C)
  • High fever: 102.4–105.8°F (39.1–41°C)
  • Hyperthermia: Greater than 105.8°F (41°C)

The average body temperature of children and toddlers is around 97.52°F (36.4°C) but this can vary depending on a child’s age, health status, and thermometer location.

Similarly to adults, temperatures around 38°C and above may indicate fever.

How and when you should treat a fever can vary depending on a person’s age and associated symptoms. If left untreated, fever can lead to serious complications in young children, older adults, and people with compromised immune systems.

Adults with a fever and other symptoms, such as a stiff neck, severe pain anywhere in the body, or shortness of breath, should seek immediate medical attention.

Similarly, if your fever goes above 103°F (39.4°C) or doesn’t respond to treatment, it may be best to seek medical assistance.

Infants and toddlers

A doctor should see infants up to 3 months old with a fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or above. They should still see a doctor even if there are no other symptoms present.

Babies 3 to 6 months old may not require treatment for fevers up to 102°F (38.9°C). If your baby has other symptoms or their fever goes above 102°F (38.9°C), call your doctor.

Immunocompromized states

If you have a weakened immune system and start experiencing fever, seek medical assistance. A compromised immune system is common in people with HIV, cancer, or autoimmune diseases.

Fever is often a sign of infection. Sometimes, these infections are fast-moving or hard to treat. So if you have a compromised immune system, getting immediate medical support for fever is important.