Nothing makes a parent more concerned than an unhappy or unwell child. Often parents feel powerless when their child has a fever. But, it may help to know that, in most cases, a temperature is nothing to worry about.
Fevers are common in infants and children. A fever is a sign that your child’s body is fighting an infection, which is a good thing. Getting fevers a few times a year is normal; they usually pass within in a day or two. But that doesn’t make them any less concerning. Knowing when to wait it out and when to worry can help soothe your anxiety and distress.
What does a fever mean?
Most people’s body temperature changes slightly during the day. Your child’s average body temperature is between 98.6 to 99.6 degrees Fahrenheit. A reading of slightly above that temperature is not considered a fever.
Most doctors diagnose a fever when your child’s temperature is above 100.4. It usually means your child’s body is fighting some type of infection or bacteria. Other reasons for fever include recent vaccinations, heat stroke, certain medications, or certain types of illnesses such as cancer or an autoimmune disorder.
An oral or rectal thermometer can help determine your child’s temperature reading. Most physicians prefer a rectal thermometer reading.
The right time to call your doctor
In most cases, you won’t need to see a doctor. However, if your child is under 3 months old with a fever above 100.4, you should take them to see your doctor or to an urgent care clinic if your doctor is not available.
Between 3 and 12 months old, you should seek a medical evaluation if your child’s fever reaches 102.2. A temperature above 102.2 may indicate an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.
At any age or temperature, you should call your doctor if the fever has not gone down within a couple of days or it’s accompanied by other issues such as an earache, sore throat, constant vomiting or dehydration.
How you can help your child at home
You only need to help your child if they are uncomfortable or in some sort. If your child seems fine other than a fever, you can just let them rest. Put them in pajamas or some comfortable clothing and cover them in a light blanket. Overdressing them or piling on blankets may make their body temperature rise. Make sure their room is at a comfortable temperature.
If your child is having trouble sleeping or relaxing, you can try children’s acetaminophen for children over 2 months old or ibuprofen for children over 6 months old. Other ways to soothe a child with fever include warm baths and drinking extra fluids.
Does your child have a fever? Are you concerned or have questions about your child’s health? Call pediatrician Gina Labovitz, MD, at Ross Bridge Medical Center Pediatrics in Hoover, Alabama, or make an appointment online.