If your child has a fever, do you know what to do? Should you just let them rest? How do you know if you should take them to a doctor?
At Ross Bridge Medical Center Pediatrics, we’re experts on children and fevers, from the flu to common colds. It’s one of the reasons we offer same day sick visits, during which we can diagnose your child and get them on the road to recovery. In this blog, Nicolette Marak, MD, discusses child fever basics, symptoms, signs to look for, and treatment options.
Age and fevers
For babies 3 months and under, a fever may be the only sign of a serious illness. If your newborn’s temperature is more than 100.4°F, it’s time to call your pediatrician or head to the ER.
For children 3 months to age 3, you generally don’t need to be overly concerned until their fever hits 102.2°F.
If your child is older than age 3, you should get medical care if their temperature reaches 103°F. Do note that children tend to run higher fevers than adults. If their fever persists for 72 hours to 5 days, you should call your pediatrician. Do note that these are just general guidelines. If you have any concerns whatsoever about their temperature, call your pediatrician for guidance.
What causes fevers?
Fevers, for the most part, are actually a good thing. When the body is running a fever, it’s actively fighting whatever is making it sick. Viruses and bacteria can thrive in a body that’s at its normal temperature. In response, the body raises its temperature, which makes it much harder for viruses and bacteria to survive.
It’s also thought that a fever helps activate the body’s immune system. The only exception to this rule can be newborns, who may start to run a fever when overdressed or in a hot environment.
There are many indications that a child may have a fever. Common signs include the following:
- Chills and shivering
- Muscle aches
- Loss of appetite
- General weakness
Many parents first recognize that their child may have a fever when they notice they’re not as active or talkative as usual.
Looking for signs
Although your child may not be the best reporter of their condition, you may be able to glean some information from how they act. Your child is likely relatively well if they’re:
- Still interested in playing
- Eating and drinking well
- Alert and smiling at you
Another thing to look for is skin color. If their skin color is normal, that’s a good sign.
If your child is feeling under the weather but has a temperature that doesn’t have you reaching for the phone, you can probably treat them at home with many of the same measures you may use for yourself.
You can give them acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce their fever while following the dosing guide on the bottle. Give them an ice compress for their forehead and dress them in loose, lightweight clothing.
If they want to lay in bed, keep the covers to a light blanket or just the top sheet. If they won’t eat, keep the fluids coming — ice pops, jello, water, and soup are all good options. Most of all, take it easy. There is never a better time to watch a movie or read a book.
To learn more about fevers in children or to schedule a sick visit for your child, book an appointment over the phone with Ross Bridge Medical Center Pediatrics today.