How to tell if you have a fever

How to check if you have a fever, in adults and children

Thermometer for fever
(Image credit: Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash)

One of the symptoms of coronavirus is a fever. But how do you know if you have a fever? What body temperature is considered a fever? We're here to help. 

Before we start, you should not that just because you have a fever doesn't mean that you definitely have coronavirus (coronavirus home test kits are on their way, though). Fever is one of the common symptoms of COVID-19, along with a cough and breathing difficulties. 

A temperature of 38°C or over is generally considered to indicate a fever. If you feel hot to touch on your chest or back, this can indicate you have a fever. You can also take your temperature by using a medical thermometer. 

Ideally, you'd want to pick up one of the best thermometers. However, as with a lot of things right now (including hand sanitizer gel and toilet paper), stock of medical thermometers is looking low, so you might need to branch out a bit. The widget below will pull in available thermometers in your country.

Fevers in children

In babies or children, a normal temperature is around 36.4°C. A temperature of 38°C or above is usually considered a fever. High temperatures are very common in young children, and usually last only 3-4 days. Furthermore, according to the CDC, "children with confirmed COVID-19 have generally presented with mild symptoms". 

Check for a fever in children or babies using a thermometer. If the child is under five years old, it is recommended you take their temperature under their armpit using a digital thermometer. Place the temperature gauge under their arm and hold it there for as long as recommended by the manufacturer's instructions (usually around 15 seconds).

If you're taking a child's temperature, make sure there's nothing that would have elevated their temperature for another reason. So, if they've just come out of a warm bath, have been running around, or are wrapped up in a blanket or warm clothes, their temperature might read as higher than normal.