What Is the Normal Temperature of the Human Body in COVID-19?

Reviewed on 2/4/2022

Man with thermometer in mouth and woman sick in bed
Fever is a very common symptom of COVID-19, which is a temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher.

COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) is a viral illness caused by a novel strain of coronavirus. It is responsible for an outbreak of respiratory illness that became a global pandemic in 2020. COVID-19 is different from other coronaviruses that cause mild illness, such as the common cold.

A fever is a higher-than-normal body temperature, which is not an illness in itself, but a symptom that often occurs when the body is fighting an infection, such as COVID-19.

A normal body temperature is generally 98.6°F (37°C), but a person’s normal body temperature may vary throughout the day, with lower temperatures occurring in the early morning and higher temperatures in the late afternoon. 

20 Most Common Symptoms of COVID-19

Fever is one of the diagnostic criteria for COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) considers a person to have a fever if their temperature registers 100.4°F (38°C) or higher. However, if a person is unable to measure their temperature, the CDC also considers a person to have a fever if they feel warm to the touch, or if they give a history of feeling feverish. 

In addition to fever, common symptoms of COVID-19 include:

Emergency warning signs that require immediate medical attention (call 9-1-1 or go to a hospital’s emergency department) include: 

  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bluish lips or face
  • New confusion or inability to arouse

How Is COVID-19 Diagnosed?

COVID-19 is diagnosed with a physical examination and a patient history which will include asking if the patient had any known recent exposure to the virus. 

If COVID is suspected, tests used to diagnose the virus include: 

  • PCR tests (genetic or molecular test) 
    • Results can take hours to up to one week
    • More accurate than an antigen test
  • Antigen test
    • Results are available in less than one hour
    • Less accurate than a PCR test

An antibody test may be used to determine if a person had a past COVID-19 infection, but it is not used to diagnose current infections because it takes up to 3 weeks following infection for the body to produce antibodies to the virus. 

What Is the Treatment for COVID-19?

There is no specific treatment for COVID-19, and supportive care is aimed at relieving symptoms in mild cases. 

In mild cases, regardless of whether you were vaccinated or not, the CDC recommends staying home and self-isolating for 5 days to avoid spreading the virus. Wear a well-fitted mask around others in the home. 

If you are fever-free for 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing medications, and symptoms are improving, isolation can end after 5 fill days. Those who were severely ill should isolate for at least 10 days. 

Contact your doctor before ending isolation to ensure it is safe to do so. Even after ending isolation, all people should take precautions such as wearing a well-fitted mask for 10 full days when around others, whether inside the home or in public. Avoid travel and avoid being around people who are at high risk. 

Treatments for mild COVID-19 symptoms include:

  • Pain relievers 
  • Cough suppressants
  • Rest
  • Adequate fluid intake

Different monoclonal antibodies have received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adult and pediatric patients 12 years and older who are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization. 

Monoclonal antibodies are not indicated for use in severe cases.

More severe COVID-19 cases may require hospitalization and treatments may include:

  • Antiviral therapy with remdesivir 
  • Corticosteroids 
  • Immunotherapy 
  • Antithrombotic therapy - anticoagulants and antiplatelet therapy 
  • High-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) oxygen 
  • Ventilation 

Hydroxychloroquine has been touted as a possible treatment, but studies have shown it to be ineffective with a high risk of fatal heart arrhythmias, and it is not recommended. 

The medication ivermectin has also been suggested as a possible treatment for COVID. While ivermectin is approved for human use to treat infections caused by some parasitic worms and head lice and skin conditions like rosacea, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not authorized or approved ivermectin for use in preventing or treating COVID-19 in humans or animals. Currently available data do not show ivermectin is effective against COVID-19 and taking large doses of ivermectin is dangerous.

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Reviewed on 2/4/2022
Image Source: iStock Images