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COVID-19 and Fever

Fever is one of the most common symptoms of COVID-19. However, people with COVID-19 sometimes have a low-grade fever or no fever at all.

Fever is one of the most common symptoms of COVID-19.

What is considered a fever?

In general, a fever is a temperature above 100.4°F (38°C). Read more about Fever and How to Take a Temperature.

Always talk to your health care provider for specific advice and instructions.

Why is checking for fever important in COVID-19?

Many people with COVID-19 have a fever at some point during their illness.

Common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and problems breathing. Other possible symptoms include headache, body aches, chills, fatigue, and loss of the sense of smell or taste. Some people may also have runny nose, sore throat, nausea, or diarrhea.

The most common cause of fever is an infection caused by bacteria or viruses. It’s a good idea to check your temperature any time you have symptoms of fever such as chills, body aches, and feeling warm or flushed. If you think you might be sick, use a thermometer to check your temperature. Write down your temperature so you can tell your doctor.

Some people might be asked to take their temperature even if they don’t have symptoms of COVID-19. For example, your doctor may tell you to check your temperature each day if you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Other people may be asked to check their temperature when they go to school or work. Screening for fever can help stop the spread of COVID-19.

What is the best way to take my temperature?

You can use a digital thermometer to take your temperature. An oral (by mouth) temperature is generally the best way to check for fever in adults and children over 4 years of age.

Be sure that you wait at least 30 minutes after eating or drinking. Also, for the best measure of fever, do not take a fever-reducing medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen within 4 hours of checking your temperature.

How to Take a Temperature

A fever is an increase in body temperature. A normal body temperature is around 98.6°F (37°C). In general, a fever is a temperature above 100.4°F (38°C).

Learn how to take your temperature

Can Temperature Checks Help Prevent the Spread of COVID-19?

Temperature checks are often used to screen for COVID-19 in the community. Non-contact or no-touch forehead thermometers are quick and easy to use. However, they are not always accurate. Also, people can have the virus and spread COVID-19 without having a fever. Temperature screenings should always be part of other COVID-19 prevention steps including wearing face masks, physical distancing, and hand washing. If you think you might have a fever or have any other symptoms, stay home.

 

How often should I take my temperature to check for COVID-19?

The recommendations for how often to take your temperature may depend on factors such your job, health, and risk factors. If you are at risk for COVID-19 because of possible exposure to the virus, it is a good idea to check your temperature once or twice a day.

The CDC also recommends that all people be screened for fever and other symptoms of COVID-19 before they enter a healthcare facility. You may be asked if you have a fever or your temperature may be taken as part of screening.

Checking temperature regularly is a good practice for anyone who works out in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is especially important for any caregiver or worker who has close contact with high-risk individuals such as the elderly or people who have chronic medical conditions.

Screening for fever and other symptoms can help detect COVID-19 early and prevent you from spreading the virus to others.

How do I clean my thermometer?

  • Clean your thermometer before and after each use.
  • Most digital thermometers can be cleaned using soap and water.
  • You can also use rubbing alcohol (70% isopropyl alcohol) to wipe off the surface. Then rinse off water.
  • Wipe dry with a clean cloth or allow to air dry on a clean surface.
  • Do not boil or soak the thermometer in water. Do not clean thermometers in the dishwasher.
  • Always follow manufacturer instructions for cleaning and use.
  • Wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer before and after handling the thermometer.

Can all family members use the same thermometer?

All family members can use the same thermometer if it is cleaned properly. Be sure that you clean your hands and disinfect surfaces to avoid spreading germs.

Can you have COVID-19 without a fever?

Yes. Although a fever (>100.4°F) is a common symptom of COVID-19, people may be infected with the coronavirus but not have fever. Some people may have a low-grade fever at first and then get worse over time. Or, fever may come and go. It is also possible for a person to be asymptomatic (no fever or other symptoms) and still spread the virus to others.

Can I spread COVID-19 if I don’t have a fever?

Yes. It is possible to spread COVID-19 even if you do not have a fever or other symptoms. A laboratory test can determine if you have the virus that causes COVID-19. Find information on testing for COVID-19 from the CDC.

How long does fever last with COVID-19?

COVID-19 symptoms, including fever, vary from person to person. Fever can be one of the first signs of COVID-19, or fever can appear later during the illness. Some people don’t have fever at all. It can be persistent (constant) or come and go for a few days or even weeks. That is why it is important to be fever-free for at least 24 hours before stopping isolation.

What is the fever range for COVID-19?

There are no specific fever ranges for COVID-19. Generally, 100.4°F is used to say whether or not someone has fever. However, this number is just a guideline. In addition, fever by itself is not a reliable symptom of COVID-19. According to available data, less than half of people who tested positive for COVID-19 reported fever as a symptom. It is also important to remember that children tend to have milder and shorter duration of COVID-19 symptoms, including fever. But this does not mean that children don’t spread the virus.

What is a normal body temperature?

In general, a normal body temperature is around 98.6°F (37°C). Because your normal may be a bit different, it’s a good idea to get a baseline for what is normal for you. Find your normal body temperature by taking your temperature when you are feeling well. Check your temperature on a couple of different days in the morning and the afternoon. Your normal temperature will be somewhere in the middle of those readings.

Read more about Fever and Taking Your Temperature.

Find More Information on Fever and COVID-19


Reviewed: March 2021