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High temperature (fever) in adults

What is a high temperature?

Normal body temperature is different for everyone and changes during the day.

A high temperature is usually considered to be 38C or above. This is sometimes called a fever.

Check if you have a high temperature

You may have a high temperature if:

  • your chest or back feel hotter than usual
  • you have other symptoms, such as shivering (chills), sweating or warm, red skin (this may be harder to see on black or brown skin)
  • a thermometer says your temperature is 38C or above

Important: Important

If you feel hot or shivery, you may have a high temperature even if a thermometer says your temperature is below 38C.

Do I need to take my temperature?

You do not need to take your temperature using a thermometer, but you can if you have one.

Make sure you use it correctly to help get an accurate result. See how to take a temperature.

Treating a high temperature

If you have a high temperature, it can help to:

  • get lots of rest
  • drink plenty of fluids (water is best) to avoid dehydration – drink enough so your pee is light yellow and clear
  • take paracetamol or ibuprofen if you feel uncomfortable
  • stay at home and avoid contact with other people until you do not have a high temperature

Causes of a high temperature

Many things can cause a high temperature. It's not usually a sign of anything serious.

It's often just caused by your body fighting an infection, such as a cold or flu.

Sometimes it could be a sign of something more serious if your temperature is very high or will not come down.

Information:

Advice for children

This page is for adults. For advice about children, see high temperature (fever) in children.

Page last reviewed: 06 April 2020
Next review due: 06 April 2023