What is a high temperature for an adult and a child and when should I see a doctor?

Despite warming temperatures, nasty bugs and viruses are still giving people the sniffles across Britain.

Illnesses are making the rounds – some worse than others.


Despite warming temperatures, nasty bugs and viruses are still giving people the sniffles across Britain[/caption]

A high temperature usually suggests the body is fighting off an infection.

But in some cases, when the body gets too hot, it can be worth seeing a medical professional.

What is a high temperature for an adult and child?

A high temperature is considered to be anything 38C (100.4F) and is often known as a fever.

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The standard body temperature in adults is 37C (98.6F), according to the NHS.

But this can change slightly depending on the person’s age, the time of day and the current activity.

It is generally accepted that 36.1C (97F) to 37.2C (99F) is a normal range for body temperature.

But the NHS says if you feel hot or shivery, you may have a high temperature even if a thermometer says your temperature is below 38C (100.4F).

Other signs include sweating or warm, red skin, and your chest or back feeling hotter than usual.

For babies and children, the normal body temperature is 36.4C (97.5F), but again, this can vary slightly.

A high temperature in a child or baby is also 38C (100.4F) or over.

What causes a high temperature?

Having a temperature is a sign the body is responding to an illnesses like the common cold or flu.

A fever can also be a response to a vaccine, which mimics a virus.

However it can be the sign of something more concerning such as coronavirus, tonsillitis, UTIs, a stomach bug, heat exhaustion, or a vaccine, which mimics a virus.

Cases of RSV (a common cold) and norovirus are also higher than this time of year.

When should I see a doctor?

High temperatures are usually nothing to worry about, unless they last more than three to four days, in which case it’s worth going to your GP.

Make sure you get plenty of fluids (and look out for signs of dehydration), rest at home and eat some food if you have the appetite. The same goes for children.

But, there are some indications things may be a bit more serious and you need some help.

In adults, you should see a GP if you have severe thirst, have dark or very little urine, you are light-headed or feel weak, you have severe muscle cramps or you have recently been abroad.

Children should be seen by a doctor if there are other symptoms such as a rash.

Warning signs also include that they won’t eat, they are not themselves or are dehydrated (dry nappies or sunken eyes), or paracetamol does not help.

Babies under three months should always be seen by a doctor, as well as those under six months with a temperature of 39C (102.2F) or higher.

When to call 999

Sometimes a fever is just one of many symptoms that suggest medical attention is urgently needed.

The NHS says call 999 if your child:

  • has a stiff neck
  • has a rash that does not fade when you press a glass against it (use the “glass test” from Meningitis Now)
  • is bothered by light
  • has a fit (febrile seizure) for the first time (they cannot stop shaking)
  • has unusually cold hands and feet
  • has blue, pale or blotchy skin, lips or tongue
  • has a weak, high-pitched cry that’s not like their normal cry
  • is drowsy and hard to wake
  • is extremely agitated (does not stop crying) or is confused
  • finds it hard to breathe and sucks their stomach in under their ribs
  • is not responding like they normally do, or is not interested in feeding or normal activities

When do you need to seek Omicron advice?

The current strain of Covid that is dominating the UK is Omicron, with the XBB.1.5 substrain most prominent.

According to experts, it’s a milder variant than other Covid strains that came before it.

Tests are no longer free for the majority of people, but if you can take a test you should.

The government advises that if you have Covid – you should try and stay away from people for five days.

You should also try and stay away from vulnerable people for 10 days.

How can I protect myself from illness?

Practicing good hygiene is the best way to prevent catching bugs, including Covid.

In order to reduce your risk of infection, you should:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick

If you have cold-like symptoms, you can help protect others by staying home when you are sick and avoiding contact with others.

You should also cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze then throw it away and wash your hands.

Cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces which you may have touched is also important.