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Fever and COVID-19

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

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

In general, a fever is considered to be 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 knowing if I have a fever important?

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

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 as part of their job. These precautions can help stop the spread of COVID-19.

How do I 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 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, the CDC recommends that you check your temperature twice a day, in the morning and evening.

The CDC also recommends that all people be screened for fever and other symptoms of COVID-19 before they enter a healthcare facility.

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.

Does everyone who has COVID-19 have a fever?

No. 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 be possible for a person to be asymptomatic (no fever or other symptoms) and still spread the virus to others.

Can I spread coronavirus if I don’t have a fever?

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 vary from person to person. People with mild illness usually recover in about 2 weeks. For people with more severe illness, recovery may take 3-6 weeks. Fever can be present at the start of infection or appear later during the course of the illness. It can be persistent (constant) or come and go for a few days. That is why it is important to be fever-free for 72 hours before stopping isolation.

What is a normal body temperature?

In general, a normal body temperature is around 98.6°F (37°C), but this can vary person to person. 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.

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Reviewed: June 2020