What Is a Low-Grade Fever? Signs, Symptoms, & Treatment

How to get rid of a cold

What Is a Low-Grade Fever? Signs, Symptoms, & Treatment


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 universally defined, but 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 often 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.1 A fever of 103° or higher is more concerning in adults. Fevers, though uncomfortable, play a key role in helping your body fight off many infections.2

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of a low-grade fever may include:3

  • Sweating

  • Shivering

  • Headache

  • Muscle aches

Recommendations for Treating Low-Grade Fever

Here’s what you can do to feel better:

  • Rest and drink plenty of fluids.4

  • 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 over-the-counter medications such as NyQuil or DayQuil, which temporarily relieve common cold and flu symptoms, including fever. For relief of even more symptoms, try NyQuil SEVERE, which can also help with nasal congestion, or DayQuil SEVERE, which contains an expectorant to help loosen mucus and make coughs more productive. Not sure if you have a fever? Keep a good thermometer on hand, like the easy-to-use Vicks thermometer, which can help you keep track of your fever.

Finally, you should consult your doctor if you are experiencing any of the below.

  • If your temperature reaches 103° F or higher.

  • If you’ve had a fever for more than three days.

  • If your fever is accompanied by a severe headache, severe throat swelling, an unusual skin rash, mental confusion, persistent vomiting, or any other out-of-the ordinary symptoms.

Get well soon!

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