woman taking a child's temperature

Normal human body temperature is 98.6 degrees F, and a fever is considered anything over 100.3 degrees F. If you notice that you have a fever, you might still feel fine otherwise. Or, you might feel so poorly that you need to see a doctor as quickly as possible. Most people will fall somewhere in the middle. When do you need to go to the ER? Take a look at a few key points below.

Caring for a Fever at Home

If you are dealing with a fever at home, there are a few ways to take care of yourself. Some of the tips include:

  • Consider taking anti-inflammatory medication to bring down the fever. Common examples include Tylenol and Motrin.
  • Make sure to get plenty of rest.
  • Drink fluids to keep your body hydrated.

While there are some situations where a fever could be relatively minor, there are other situations where you need to go to the ER.

Neonates With Fever

If you have a baby at home under 2 months of age with a fever, you need to take him or her to the ER. A neonate with a fever is a medical emergency and you need an ER doctor who can evaluate your baby right away.  This situation is more than can be evaluated at an urgent care center, so if your Pediatrician is not immediately available to advise you otherwise, a trip to the ER is required.

Fever and Septic Shock

Septic shock occurs when an infection enters the bloodstream leading to severe illness and even death.  Symptoms include fever, generalized weakness, confusion, dizziness, a diffuse rash, racing heart rate and low blood pressure. Septic shock is a life threatening emergency, so if your fever is accompanied by any of these symptoms, you should be seen in the ER immediately.

Fever and Difficulty Breathing

If you have a fever and difficulty breathing, you might have pneumonia. This can be caused by a bacteria in typical pneumonia or a virus, as with COVID-19.  Any difficulty breathing should be evaluated by a doctor right away, especially if it is accompanied by fever or chest pain.  So, if your doctor is not immediately available to guide you otherwise, you should be seen at an ER.

Fever and Abdominal Pain

Experiencing fever along with abdominal pain is usually an indication of something serious such as appendicitis, intestinal infection, gallbladder infection or an abscess.  Therefore, any abdominal pain accompanied by a fever should be evaluated right away.  This is also usually best accomplished in the emergency room as advanced studies are often required to make the diagnosis.

Fever and Urinary Issues

A fever can also be a sign of a complicated Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). All urinary tract infections begin in the bladder where the symptoms are specific to your urine.  But, if you also experience fever, back pain, nausea, vomiting, or severe lower abdominal pain, you might have pyelonephritis, which occurs when your infection moves from the bladder into your kidneys. This often requires IV antibiotics and sometimes admission to the hospital, so it should be evaluated in the emergency department.

What To Expect in the Emergency Room

The ER doctor will probably order medication to reduce your fever and make you more comfortable. Then, the ER doctor will try to find the source of the fever. This will include a complete physical exam, and might also include x-rays, CT scans, bloodwork, a urinalysis, or an ultrasound. At times, the source of the fever will not be apparent at the conclusion of the evaluation, but the doctor will be able to rule out anything serious.

Rely on CapRock Health for All Emergency Medical Needs

These are just a few of the most common reasons why you might be dealing with a fever. If you have a fever, start by looking for other symptoms that could tell you where the fever is coming from. Then, if you experience any of the issues above, make sure you go to the ER as quickly as possible. At CapRock Health, we follow all the latest guidelines and give you access to the most advanced treatment equipment in the industry. We combine this with the best ER doctors and nurses to give you the care you deserve. Reach out to us to speak with a member of our team. We are always available to help you.