What does a low-grade fever mean? If you have a cold, or more commonly the flu, you may have a fever, but not all are the same. Fevers are defined as any body temperature above 98.6° F (37° C). Some people may talk about a low-grade fever versus a regular fever or a high-grade fever. These terms are not really clearly defined. However, it is important to monitor the degree of your fever in the context of your cold or flu and take appropriate action to treat.
A Regular Fever vs. a Low-Grade Fever (LGF)
You can monitor your fever by simply taking your temperature. A low-grade fever is commonly classified as an oral temperature that is above 98.6° F (37° C) but lower than 100.4° F (38° C) for a period of 24 hours. A fever of 103° or higher is more concerning in adults. Surprisingly or not, fevers play a key role in helping your body fight off many infections.
What Typically Causes a Low Grade Fever?
To better understand how low grade fevers come about, it’s best to first understand what a fever is in general. A fever is an increase in body temperature, triggered by some sort of infection, illness, or disease. The rise in temperature helps kill off any foreign bodies in our system because certain types of bacteria and viruses can’t survive in warm environments. In this light, it can be assumed that a low grade fever indicates the beginning of our system’s defense against potential threats.
Signs and Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of a low-grade fever may include:
- Muscle aches
When Should You Worry About a Low Grade Fever?
Usually, a low grade fever shouldn’t be a cause for alarm. This is especially the case if it’s not accompanied by any other symptoms. If this is the case with you, simple steps like getting more rest, staying hydrated, and taking fever reducers should be more than enough to help resolve your situation. That said, you don’t need to wait for a low grade fever to develop into a moderate fever before you take action. Furthermore, doctors recommend that you act as soon as you detect the heightened temperature to help manage the symptoms earlier on.
However, if you’ve been experiencing a low grade fever for several days without getting better and it comes with a variety of other symptoms, then it might be time to seek prompt medical care.
Recommendations for Treating Low-Grade Fever
Here’s what you can do to feel better:
- Rest and drink plenty of fluids.
- You can also place a cold, damp washcloth on your forehead or the back of your neck while you’re resting. And you can try some other tricks to help you bring down your fever.
- Call a doctor if your fever is accompanied by a severe headache, stiff neck, shortness of breath, or other unusual signs or symptoms.
- To treat your fever associated with cold or flu or other symptoms like a cough, sore throat, headache, and minor aches and pains, you can take medications, which temporarily relieve common cold and flu symptoms, including fever.
If your low-grade fever is persistent or causes you concern, if you have other symptoms of infection, a weakened immune system, or have chronic medical problems, seek prompt medical care.