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Information About Fevers

Normal body temperature is a range between 36.6-37.4 degrees Celcius (C) (97.8-99.3 degrees Fahrenheit (F)) in adults and 36.7-38.0 degrees C (98-100.4 degrees F) in children. Our average temperature is 37 degrees Celsius or 98.6 degrees F. Our temperature is usually lowest in the morning and peaks in the late afternoon or evening. Factors that can affect our temperature include physical activity, the environment, stress, and ovulation.

Why do we get fevers?

Fevers assist the body in fighting off infections. The body does this to make the environment for bacteria and viruses less than desirable. Quite often children will get a fever below 104 degrees but otherwise feel well. In this situation, no treatment is necessary. Fever along with other discomforts is usually treated to make you feel more comfortable.

Different areas to take temperatures

Oral (mouth) temperatures should be taken for 3 minutes with a standard mercury thermometer. When using an electronic thermometer the device will usually let you know when it has finished taking the temperature. It is important that oral temperatures are taken at least 15 minutes after eating, drinking, or smoking. Axillary (armpit) temperatures are taken for five minutes. To compare an axillary temperature to an oral temperature, add 0.5 degrees C or 1 degree F to the axillary temperature. Rectal temperatures are often necessary with infants. Rectal temperatures are taken for 3 minutes. Do not use the same thermometer for oral temperatures that has been used for rectal temperatures in the past. To compare a rectal temperature to an oral temperature, subtract 0.5 degrees C or 1 degree F.

Treatment guidelines for fever reduction

  • Take acetaminophen (Tylenol) every 4-6 hours as needed for fever. See table at right for proper dosing.
  • Take ibuprofen (Advil) every 4-6 hours as needed for fever. See table at right for proper dosing.
  • In the case of viral illness or chicken pox, do not give children aspirin.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. People have a tendency to get dehydrated when they have a fever.
  • Eat according to appetite.

Dosing using Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

Weight (Pounds)Dose in mg
6-1140 mg
12-1780 mg
18-23120 mg
24-35160 mg
36-47240 mg
48-59320 mg
60-71400 mg
72-95480 mg
96+640 mg
Adults650-1000 mg

Dosing Using Ibuprofen (Advil)

Weight (Pounds)For Fever <102.5For Fevers > 102.5
18-2350 mg100 mg
24-3475 mg150 mg
36-47100 mg200 mg
48-59125 mg250 mg
60-71150 mg300 mg
72-95200 mg400 mg

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Last reviewed January 3, 2010