When is a fever cause for concern?

If any of the following situations apply, call a doctor as soon as possible:

  • A fever accompanied by a stiff neck, confusion or irritability.
  • A fever remaining above 103°F (39.5°C) longer than two hours after home treatment.
  • A fever lasting longer than two days.
  • High fever accompanied by rash.
  • Photophobia (irritated by light).
  • Dehydration (less amount of urine, sunken eyes, no tears).
  • Seizures.

Any fever in an adult that goes above 105°F (or 40.5°C) and does not come down with treatment is a life-threatening medical emergency and you should call 911.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/31/2019.


  • American Academy of Family Physicians. Fever. Accessed 1/6/2020.
  • Hague R. Managing the child with a fever. Practitioner. 2015;259(1784):17-21, 2-3.
  • NHS Choices. Fever in children. Accessed 1/6/2020.
  • Merck Manual. Fever. Accessed 1/6/2020.

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