WHAT IS FEVER?
Fever is defined as a rectal temperature over 100.4℉.
Fever is the elevation of the body temperature above its natural set-point.
Normal body temperature is around 98.6℉ plus or minus 1℉.
When the body detects an infection or illness, the brain responds by raising the body’s temperature to help fight the infection.
WHEN TO CALL THE DOCTOR
In most situations fever is a healthy response to infection. Fever helps the body kill bacteria and viruses that are causing the infection. It is not always necessary to take your child to the doctor for a fever.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF:
Your child is under 3 months of age and has a rectal temperature of 100.4℉.
Your child repeatedly has fever that rises above 104℉ or if fever does not respond to medication by reducing by 1℉ or more after 1 hour.
Your child has had fever for more than 72 hours. With most viruses, fever will resolve within this time frame.
Your child has problems with his immune system such as sickle cell disease, cancer, or is taking steroids regularly.
Your child has a seizure.
Your child has signs of dehydration such as dry mouth, sunken soft spot, or decreased wet diapers and is unable to take in fluids.
Your child has other symptoms such as severe headache, stiff neck, severe sore throat, ear pain, persistent vomiting or diarrhea.
Your child looks very ill, is unusually drowsy, very fussy or limp even after fever reducers have been given.
Your child has been in a very hot place, such as an overheated car.
If you suspect a fever, always take your child’s temperature with a thermometer. Always use a rectal thermometer for infants.
Always check your child’s temperature with a thermometer prior to giving fever medications.
The purpose of treating a fever is to make your child more comfortable and to ensure that she continues to drink and stay hydrated.
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) – ages 2 month and up or Ibuprofen (Advil/Motrin) – ages 6 months and up can be used to reduce fever. Medications should not be given infants under 2 months of age unless directed by your physician.
Always use the correct dose based on your child’s weight. If you are unsure what dose to give, call your pediatrician.
Medication will reduce the temperature, but may not bring it completely back to normal. This is okay. As long as the fever reduces and your child feels more comfortable, the medication is working. Remember, the fever is helping your body fight the infection. When the medication wears off in 4-6 hours, the fever may return. This is to be expected. You may continue to treat as needed.
Do not over bundle your child when he has a fever. Do not use immerse your child in a cold bath or place ice on them to bring down the fever. This can be dangerous.