What Is a High Temperature for COVID-19?

Medically Reviewed on 2/16/2022
normal body temperatures
COVID-19 infection can cause a fever or high body temperature of 100.4°F or higher.

The normal human body temperature is 98.6°F (37°C) although it can fall between 97°F and 99°F (36.1°C and 37.2°C).

Normally, body temperature has diurnal variation, which means it is lower in the morning, goes up during the day, and peaks in the late afternoon or evening. It can vary depending on physical activity, age, and food intake.

Although not every person infected with coronavirus will develop fevermost people affected by COVID-19 have a fever or a temperature that is higher than usual. A body temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher is considered a fever.

Other causes that can increase the body temperature include:

Fever temperature chart

Table. Fever temperature in adults, children, and babies
95°F of below 95.1°F - 96.9°F 97°F - 98.6°F 98.7°F - 100.4°F 100.4°F - 103°F 103.1°F or above
Adults Hypothermia (seek care) Low but potentially normal Normal Normal or low-grade fever Fever High fever (seek care)
Children Hypothermia (seek care) Low but potentially normal Normal Normal or low-grade fever Fever High fever (seek care)
Babies (3 months or less) Hypothermia (seek care) Low (seek care) Normal Low-grade fever Fever (seek care) High fever (seek care)

What is COVID-19?

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus—a member of a large family of viruses called coronaviruses.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people infected with COVID-19 may experience a range of symptoms that begin, on average, five to six days after exposure to the virus. However, it can take up to 14 days for symptoms to initiate (incubation period).

People with older age, high body mass index, and underlying medical conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular and respiratory diseases are more likely to develop severe illness and experience prolonged and long-lasting symptoms.

12 typical symptoms of COVID-19

Other than fever, COVID-19 may present with symptoms such as:

  1. Fatigue
  2. Headache
  3. Body ache
  4. Runny or stuffy nose
  5. Cough
  6. Anosmia (loss of smell)
  7. Loss of taste
  8. Loss of appetite
  9. Sore throat
  10. Diarrhea
  11. Nausea
  12. Difficulty breathing

Steps to manage COVID-19

The following steps should be taken to manage COVID-19:

  • Self-isolate at home
  • Monitor yourself for symptoms such as fever and sore throat
  • Take adequate rest
  • Stay hydrated
  • Stretch yourself several times a day
  • Eat a healthy and nutritious diet
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers if needed
  • Use medications to relieve pain and fever
  • Inform your doctor if your symptoms worsen or you develop symptoms such as high fever, difficulty breathing, chest pain, or confusion

Can you have COVID-19 without fever?

Although fever (>100.4°F) is the most common symptom of COVID-19, few people infected with the virus may not exhibit fever as a predominant symptom, can have a low-grade fever, or remain asymptomatic but still can pass the virus and infect others.

How long does fever last with COVID-19?

Fever by itself is not a reliable symptom of COVID-19, and the duration of it can vary from person to person. It can be persistent or come and go for a few days or even weeks; hence, it is essential to be fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever medications along with improvement in other symptoms before stopping isolation.

An isolation period of at least five days is nonetheless recommended along with wearing a well-fitted mask and avoiding socialization and travel until the 10th day.

Which organs are most affected by COVID-19?

The lungs are the first and most common organs affected by COVID-19; however, the virus can also cause damage to other organs such as:

  • Heart
  • Kidneys
  • Skin
  • Brain

11 potential complications of COVID-19

Some of the complications of COVID-19 include:

  1. Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (a disorder of the autonomic nervous system)
  2. Post-traumatic stress disorder (a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event)
  3. Myocarditis (inflammation of the myocardium [heart muscle])
  4. Kidney damage
  5. Arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats)
  6. Mucormycosis (a serious but rare fungal infection caused by a group of molds called mucormycetes)
  7. Venous thromboembolism (a blood clot in the deep veins)
  8. Seizure (also called convulsions; a burst of uncontrolled electrical activity between the brain cells)
  9. Stroke (loss of blood flow to the brain)
  10. Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain)
  11. Guillain–Barre syndrome (a rare neurological disorder in which the body's immune system mistakenly attacks its nerves)
Medically Reviewed on 2/16/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

COVID-19 World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_1

COVID-19 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/about-covid-19/basics-covid-19.html