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Fever and Your Child

What is a fever?

A fever is a body temperature that is higher than normal. Everyone’s temperature tends to be lower in the early morning and higher between late afternoon and early evening. Most pediatricians consider any thermometer reading above 100.4°F (38°C) a sign of fever.

What should you look for?

If your child has a fever, her heart and breathing rates naturally will speed up. You may notice that your child feels warm. She may appear flushed or perspire more than usual. Call your pediatrician immediately if your child has a fever and:

  • Has had a seizure.
  • Has been in an extremely hot place.
  • Is under 2 months of age and has a rectal temperature of 100.4°F or higher.
  • Looks very ill, drowsy, or fussy.
  • Has a condition that suppresses immune responses, such as sickle-cell
  • Has additional symptoms such as a stiff neck, severe headache, severe sore throat, severe ear pain, rash, or repeated vomiting/diarrhea.

How do I treat a fever?

If your child is eating and sleeping well and is able to play, you may wait to see if the fever improves by itself. Make sure that she does not overexert herself and encourage her to drink fluids such as water, diluted fruit juices, or a commercially prepared oral electrolyte solution. Both acetaminophen and ibuprofen are safe and effective in proper doses.

Ibuprofen should only be used for children older than 6 months of age. It should not be given to children who are vomiting consistently or are dehydrated. Do not use aspirin to treat your child’s fever. If your child is vomiting and unable to take medication by mouth, your pediatrician may recommend a rectal suppository for your child. To be safe, talk to your pediatrician before giving your child any medication to treat fever if he is younger than 2 years of age.

Sponging may reduce your child’s temperature as water evaporates from her skin. Do not use cold water to sponge your child, as this could cause shivering. That could increase her temperature. Usually 5 to 10 minutes in the tub is enough time for a child’s temperature to start dropping. Do not try to reduce your child’s temperature to normal too quickly. This could cause the temperature to rebound higher. Call if the fever persists for more than 24 hours in a child younger than 2 years of age or more than 3 days in a child 2 years of age or older.

Information on this site is intended for Angel Kids Pediatrics patients only. Always consult your doctor before beginning, modifying, or discontinuing any treatment plan.

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