Fever is always a concern among parents. It is a sign that the body is fighting an infection or illness. The main purpose of treating most fevers is simply to make the child feel better. There are many questions we receive regarding fever in children. The following tips and information will help answer some of the questions you may have.
1. What is the definition of a fever? A temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher is considered a fever. There are many methods of measuring a temperature available to the modern parent. When reporting a fever to your child’s doctor, simply state the temperature, the device used to measure the temperature, and the location where the temperature was measured. For example, stating that a child has “a temperature of 101 degrees measured rectally with a digital thermometer” is a correct way to communicate the information. Please do not make any adjustments to the temperature as this sometimes leads to confusion.
2. What temperature is a “dangerous” temperature? There is not a black and white answer to this question. A helpful way to answer this question is to answer the following four questions (assuming that your child is otherwise healthy and there are no other underlying health problems):
a. How high is the temperature? A fever of 104-105 generally has a higher risk of being a more serious infection.
b. What do I think is causing the fever? An obvious source of the fever such as a runny nose or cough can be reassuring.
c. How sick does the child appear with the fever? A mildly ill appearing child is less worrisome.
d. How does the child appear an hour after acetaminophen or ibuprofen was administered? If the child is “back to normal” after treating the fever, this is again reassuring.
In summary, if the fever is low grade (101-102), has an obvious source, in a mildly ill appearing child who perks up nicely after treatment, it is generally safe to treat and observe that child for the next several days. After three days of fever, it may be a good idea to at least touch base with your child’s doctor.
Other thoughts about fever include:
-Severe headache, stiff neck, or rash with fever may indicate a more serious infection and your child’s doctor should be contacted as soon as possible
-Any fever in a child less than 2-3 months of age is also more worrisome and your child’s doctor should be contacted immediately
-Sponging a child with lukewarm water or giving a tepid bath can sometimes be a helpful adjunct in treating a high fever (104-105 degrees)
-Dress your child appropriately based on the height of the fever and offer liquids more frequently so dehydration does not occur
-Most fevers from viral illnesses can last 3-5 days; it is usually a good idea to touch base with your child’s doctor after three days of fever or sooner if you have any concerns or questions
We hope these few bits of information were helpful. We also hope you check out the rest or our website as we have made some recent improvements.
“The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”
– Chinese Proverb