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What is a Fever?

A fever is a temporary increase in your body's core temperature. While our normal body temperature fluctuates slightly throughout the day, a fever is generally considered to be:

A rectal or oral temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher is considered a fever in adults and children.

Our body temperature is regulated by a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which acts like a thermostat. In response to certain triggers, the hypothalamus raises the body's temperature set point. A rectal temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher or a forehead temperature of 102°F (38.9°C) is considered a fever in infants and neonates (newborns).

The conventional idea of a normal body temperature at 98.6°F (37°C) isn't entirely accurate. Your body temperature can naturally vary by up to a degree or more throughout the day. It's cooler in the mornings and tends to rise in the evenings. Exercise and hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle in women can also cause fluctuations.

While older kids and adults typically have a lower body temperature, that's not the case for babies and young children.