Fevers have been making parents nervous for ages. Before vaccines were developed, a fever was often a sign of life-threatening disease like diphtheria or meningitis. Parents learned to be wary. Thankfully, because of the success of immunizations, we live in a time in which the vast majority of fevers are not associated with dangerous illness. Most fevers are not a cause for concern, and actually help the body to fight off the infection.
- Your child has a fever if they have a temperature over 100.4, or an oral or axillary temperature over 99.5.
- Fevers in the range of 101-105 are common with viral illness and generally come and go for 2 to 3 days. The body has mechanisms to prevent most dangerously high fevers, those approaching 107.
- Only young infants need to have a temperature taken rectally, since this is most accurate and the degree of fever is extremely important in the very young. Once your child is over 2 months, an under-arm (axillary) temperature is sufficient.
CALL IMMEDIATELY IF YOUR CHILD HAS A FEVER AND ANY OF THE FOLLOWING ARE TRUE...
- Your child is less than 2 months old
- Your child looks very ill to you
- Your child has bruise marks or dark red spots on the skin
- Your child is not responsive or aware
CALL DURING OFFICE HOURS FOR AN APPOINTMENT IF...
- Your child's fever comes and goes for more than 3 days
- Your child's fever is 105 or higher
- Your child has other concerning symptoms like severe cough or vomiting
HOME TREATMENT ADVICE
- If your child is having a low fever and feels well, you do not have to treat the fever
- A lukewarm bath will bring a fever down 1 to 2 degrees in 15 to 20 minutes
- Encourage extra liquids like water, diluted juice or Pedialyte
- Treat with acetaminophen or ibuprofen following the guidelines inside the back cover of this book if the fever is bothersome
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