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Fever

Disponible En Espanol


Definition:

  • Fever is the only symptom. Your child has a fever if:
  • Rectal, Ear or Forehead temperature: 100.4° F (38.0° C) or higher
  • Oral or Mouth temperature:  100° F (37.8° C) or higher
  • Under the arm (Armpit) temperature:  99° F (37.2° C) or higher
  • Caution: Ear temperatures are not accurate before 6 months of age
  • Caution: Forehead temperatures must be digital. Forehead strips are not accurate.

Causes

  • Main cause: colds and other viral infections.
  • Fever may be the only symptom for the first 24 hours. This often occurs with a viral illness. The start of symptoms (runny nose, cough, loose stools) are often delayed. In the case of Roseola, fever may be the only symptom for 2 or 3 days.
  • Most often, you won't know the cause of the fever until other symptoms develop. This may take 24 hours.
  • Bacterial infections (as with a Strep throat or a kidney infection) also cause fever.
  • Teething does not cause fever.

Fever and Crying

  • Fever on its own shouldn’t cause much crying.
  • Frequent crying in a child with fever is caused by pain until proven otherwise.
  • Hidden causes can be ear infections, kidney infections, sore throats and meningitis.

Normal Temperature Range

  • Rectal. A reading of 98.6° F (37° C) is just the average rectal temp. A normal low can be 96.8° F (36° C) in the morning. It can change to a high of 100.3° F (37.9° C) late in the day. This is a normal range.
  • By mouth. A reading of 97.6° F (36.5° C) is just the average mouth temp. A normal low can be 95.8° F (35.5° C) in the morning. It can change to a high of 99.9° F (37.7° C) late in the day. This is a normal range.

Return to School

  • Your child can go back to school after the fever is gone. Your child should feel well enough to join in normal activities.

Disclaimer

The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in these topics is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment.

  • Not a Substitute - The information and materials in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker should not be used as a substitute for the care and knowledge that your physician can provide to you.
  • Supplement - The information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker are meant to supplement the information that you obtain from your physician. If there is a disagreement between the information presented herein and what your physician has told you -- it is more likely that your physician is correct. He or she has the benefit of knowing your child's medical problems.
  • Limitations - You should recognize that the information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker have the following limitations, in comparison to being examined by your own physician:
    • You can have a conversation with your child's doctor.
    • Your child's doctor can perform a physical examination and any necessary tests.
    • Your child could have an underlying medical problem that requires a physician to detect.
    • If your child is taking medications, they could influence how he experiences various symptoms.

If you think that your child is having a medical emergency, call 911 or the number for the local emergency ambulance service NOW!

And when in doubt, call your child's doctor NOW or go to the closest emergency department.

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