A fever is formally defined by most primary care providers as a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) and higher.
Your child makes a fever to fight off germs. Your child’s immune system increases the body temperature to help your child get rid of germs without causing harm to your child. A fever often makes your child feel hot and look flushed. Fevers can cause headaches or body aches, sweating or shivering. Some kids get headaches with fever, and most kids lose their appetites with fever. Some kids just feel sleepier than usual. Many kids are cranky when they have fevers and feel much better when their fevers go down again. You may notice your child’s heart rate and breathing rate increase with fever, similar to if they were just running. This is a normal part of fever.
Fevers are common in children. Most fevers in children are caused by viruses. A much smaller number are due to bacterial infections, such as ear infections, strep throat or pneumonia. Prolonged fever, meaning fever for more than a week, or recurring fevers can be a sign of underlying chronic disease, so it is important to check with your child's primary care provider.
When a child’s body revs up to fight germs, their body temperature often rises. Stay calm. You do not need to call your doctor right away.
A fever should be treated when it causes discomfort to your child. Treating fever can relieve associated aches and pains, allowing your child to sleep more comfortably and to drink well to prevent dehydration. If your child is already sleeping well with fever and is comfortable while awake, you do not need to treat the fever. Treating your child's fever will not help the body get rid of the infection any faster; it simply will relieve discomfort associated with fever.
If a fever is making your child uncomfortable, administer an anti-fever medication, such as Acetaminophen(Tylenol) or Ibuprofen(Advil or Motrin). DO NOT give you child Aspirin, as it has been linked to a serious, potentially fatal disease, called Reye syndrome.
*Ibuprofen cannot be given to children under 6 months of age
*See dosing charts based on your child’s weight on our website
*See the Premier Pediatrics Fever Action Plan on our website
Other ways to help your child feel more comfortable when they have a fever:
If your child is younger than 2 months with a rectal temperature greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius), go to an emergency department immediately.
If your child is between 2 and 3 months old and their temperature (taken any way) is greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, call your baby’s primary care provider immediately.
If your child is older than 3 months, call the primary care provider right away if:
Call your child's primary care provider if any of the following conditions are present:
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