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Fever & Your Child

Fever & Your Child

Cold and flu season is here and can be a confusing time for assessing the need for a visit to the doctor. To muddle things even more, some people suffer severe seasonal allergies this time of year that mimic the viral illnesses going around. It can be very frustrating to decide what medications to give and if it is necessary to call or make an appointment with the doctor.

What is a fever?

Fever is usually a sign that the body is fighting an infection. Fevers are generally harmless and, in fact, usually a good sign that your child’s immune system is working properly. Normal body temperature varies with age, general health, activity level, and time of day. Infants tend to have higher temperatures than older children and adults. Everyone’s temperature is highest between late afternoon and early evening, and lowest between midnight and early morning. Normal temperature is 97.5-99.5. Most pediatricians consider fever a temperature of 100.4 of higher.

When to call the doctor?

The younger the child the more urgent a fever is. If your baby is less than 3 months old and has fever 100.4 or higher, call immediately. If your child is 3-12 months and has had fever for more than 24 hours call your doctor. If your child is between 1-2 years of age with fever for more than 2 days go ahead and make the call, and if your child is 2 years or older with fever for 3 or more days please call the doctor.

Always call more immediately if you spot specific signs and symptoms that suggest a serious illness such as urinary symptoms, severe ear pain, repeated vomiting, headache, stiff neck, visual changes, lethargy, trouble breathing and/or signs of dehydration.

The most important thing to do when your child has fever is to make sure they drink plenty of fluids and monitor for signs and symptoms of serious illness requiring immediate treatment.

CALL the doctor immediately if your child has a fever AND:

  • Looks very ill, is unusually drowsy, or extremely fussy
  • Has been in a very hot place such as an over heated car
  • Has symptoms such as stiff neck, severe headache, severe sore throat, severe ear pain, unexplained rash, or persistent vomiting and diarrhea
  • Has had a seizure
  • Is younger than 3 months (12 weeks) and has temperature of 100.4 or greater
  • Fever rises over 104 repeatedly for a child of any age

Treating Fever:

If your child is older than 6 months and has a fever, they probably don’t need to be treated for the fever unless they are uncomfortable. If they are drinking, eating, sleeping normally, and are able to play, you should wait to see if the fever resolves on it’s own.

Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are safe and effective medicines for improving discomfort and fever.

Ibuprofen should NOT be used for children less than 6 months of age.

DO NOT use Aspirin to treat your child’s fever

If your child is vomiting and cannot take oral medicine, acetaminophen comes as a rectal suppository that may be used as needed.

Dr. Rebecca Butler is Board Certified in Pediatrics by the American Board of Pediatrics and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.  She is proud to be a resident of Lantana and the owner of Lantana Pediatrics.  For more information on Dr. Butler or to schedule an appointment, call 940-455-7200.


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