Can Allergies Cause a Fever?

Experts say you might want to think twice before blaming your child's low-grade fever on allergies. Here's what parents need to know.

Mother taking daughter's temperature
Photo: Paul Bradbury/Getty Images

Whether your child is allergic to pet dander or pollen, you might wonder if they can have a low-grade fever with allergies. But experts say that allergies can't actually cause a fever, no matter how irritating the symptoms might be. Indeed, if your child is running a fever, their body is probably fighting a sinus infection (or another viral or bacterial infection) rather than allergies. Here's what parents need to know.

Common Allergy Symptoms in Kids

Allergies happen when the body overreacts to a benign substance it considers harmful. As a result, the immune system produces antibodies and histamine to fight off the perceived invaders, causing an inflammatory reaction that makes you feel downright lousy.

Allergy symptoms can occur throughout the year or seasonally, depending on the cause of your allergies, and they can negatively affect day-to-day activities, says Sanjeev Jain, M.D., a board-certified allergist and immunologist at Columbia Allergy. Common allergy triggers in kids include pollen, trees, grasses, pet dander, mold, dust mites, and certain foods.

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, common symptoms of allergies include the following:

  • Runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Itchy throat
  • Skin rashes
  • Headache
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea and vomiting (with food allergies)

Can Allergies Cause a Low-Grade Fever?

Are you wondering if allergies can cause a fever in kids? Experts say the answer is no. Indeed, even though seasonal allergies are sometimes called "hay fever," they don't trigger a rise in temperature, says Natasha Burgert, M.D., a board-certified pediatrician for Pediatric Associates in Overland Park, Kansas.

It's important to note that your child's immune system works overtime to fight off allergies, which increases their susceptibility to infections or viruses. Your kid can definitely run a fever while suffering from allergies, but their high temperature won't actually be caused by the allergies. Instead, it will most likely be triggered something else.

For example, viruses like the common cold, influenza, or COVID-19 can cause fever as the immune system struggles to fight them off. Bacterial infections like strep throat might also lead to fever—and so can sinus infections (sinusitis), ear infections, heat exhaustion, urinary tract infections, and more.

Allergies Don't Cause Fevers

If your child has an elevated temperature with allergy symptoms, another factor is likely to blame, such as a bacterial or viral infection. Common causes include sinusitis, common cold, influenza, or COVID-19.

How to Treat Allergy Symptoms with a Fever

Fevers aren't caused by allergies, so if your child experiences a rise in temperature, something else is likely to blame. Always let your pediatrician know about any worrisome symptoms in your kid. They might need to treat the underlying cause of their fever with antibiotics if a bacterial infection is at play. A viral infection usually heals itself over time.

But what if your child has allergies and another illness? You'll also want to keep treating their allergy symptoms, as needed. Be sure to double-check with your child's pediatrician that any medications your child is already taking are safe to take with anything new that's prescribed.

Allergy treatment might include the following:

  • Avoiding the allergen
  • Using medications like antihistamines, nasal sprays, and decongestants
  • Undergoing immunotherapy (allergy shots) if symptoms are severe
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