Health & Medicine General Medicine

How to tell if you have a fever without a thermometer?


Infections and other health problems manifest with fever. However, there is not always a thermometer nearby to identify whether or not our health may be at risk.

Even if you don’t have a thermometer, there are several signs that your body shows that can tell you that you have a fever. However, keep in mind that this is not the most accurate way to diagnose a fever.

How to tell if you have a fever without a thermometer?

1.Use Touch

It is the classic technique that we all use at the first suspicion of fever. It consists of touching the forehead or neck of a person using the back of the hand. It is possible that if the person who suspects having a fever uses his or her hand to self-assess, they will not feel any difference. It is recommended that another person evaluate this condition.

A good trick is for the person without fever to touch their skin and then compare the two temperatures. A much warmer temperature can be an indicator of fever. Don’t use the palm of your hand to test for a fever. The palms are not very sensitive to temperatures like the outside of the hand.

The temperature can also be checked by placing the cheek against the person with a fever. Although if you suspect an infectious cause, it is not a good idea to do this.

2.Pinch your hand

Waiting! Be careful. Gently pinch the back of the hand of the person you suspect has a fever. With this, you will be evaluating the level of hydration since people with fever tend to dehydrate. A person with a fever loses fluid because their metabolism increases.

When you pinch your hand and then release the skin, notice the crease that forms. If the crease snaps into place quickly, the person is well hydrated. However. If the fold is moving very slowly, it means that the person is dehydrated.

Another way to assess hydration is to test urine. A dehydrated person will have dark-colored urine. In addition, you will have a dry mouth, sunken eyes and, of course, you will be thirsty. When children cry without tears it is because they are dehydrated.

3.Check the skin especially on the cheeks

People with a fever have redness on their cheeks. Sometimes the cheeks can turn reddish or purple. Although other people may have more color than normal.

This occurs because fever causes the blood vessels that carry blood to the face to dilate. As a result, more blood reaches the cheeks and they take on a rosy appearance.

4.Evaluate performance in common activities

Of course, if you feel bad, probably all you want to do is rest. However, doing common activities like walking to the mailbox and climbing stairs will help you assess your strength level.

Even if you are not totally convinced that you have a fever, exhaustion in common activities is typical of fever and illness in general. Remember that fever usually appears with other symptoms such as general malaise. If your daily performance has suddenly dropped, you probably have a fever.

5.Evaluate the pain

One of the typical symptoms that accompany fever is pain. This can appear as body aches, eye pain, and headaches. If they do not correspond to any unusual blow or strain, it can be an indicator of fever, especially if it appears together with other symptoms.

Of course, feeling pain is not exclusive to fever, if this is the only symptom you have, you probably do not have a fever.

6.Examine other symptoms

The fever does not appear alone. Generally, fever develops with other symptoms that can help you identify its presence. These are:

  • Shaking chills.
  • Tremors.
  • Fatigue, tiredness, and weakness.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Difficult to focus.
  • sweating
  • General discomfort.
  • Muscular weakness.
  • Swollen lymph nodes.

Common Symptoms of Fever in Babies and Young Children

If you have children under the age of two, buy a thermometer. The above signs will help you suspect that your child has a fever, but they should never replace the use of thermometers in this age group.

Children under the age of five are at higher risk for febrile seizures, a type of seizure caused by fever.

Some common signs and symptoms in young children with a fever are:

  • trouble swallowing
  • Refuse to eat, drink or breastfeed.
  • Increases irritability more than usual.
  • paleness
  • Reddened skin on the face.
  • Lethargy.


Some methods can help you identify if you have a fever, however, they are not as accurate as measuring your temperature with a thermometer.

The temperature tends to vary slightly throughout the day. However, the definitive diagnosis of fever is established with the thermometer. A temperature above 100.4 ° F (38 ° C) is a fever.


  • Niven, D. J., Gaudet, J. E., Laupland, K. B., Mrklas, K. J., Roberts, D. J., & Stelfox, H. T. (2015). Accuracy of peripheral thermometers for estimating temperature: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Annals of internal medicine, 163(10), 768–777.
  • [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Fever in children: Overview. 2013 Dec 18 [Updated 2019 Jun 6]. Available from:

See Also
Difference between Virus and Bacteria
How to treat a respiratory infection?