Fever

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Care at Home

  • WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: * Having a fever means your child has an infection. * It's most likely caused by a virus. * Most fevers are good for sick children and help the body fight infection.   * Use the ranges below to help put your child's level of fever into perspective: * 100°-102°F (37.8° - 39°C) Slight fever: helpful, good range * 102°-104°F (39 - 40°C)    Average fever: helpful * Over 104°F (40°C)          High fever: causes discomfort, but harmless * Over 106°F (41.1°C)       Very high fever: important to bring it down * Over 108°F (42.3°C)       Harmful fever: fever itself can cause brain damage
  • TREATMENT FOR ALL FEVERS:  EXTRA FLUIDS AND LESS CLOTHING * Offer your child lots of cold fluids to drink. Reason: Good hydration replaces sweat. It also improves heat loss from the skin. * For babies, dress in 1 layer of light weight clothing and sleep with 1 light blanket. Do not wrap in too many blankets. This may make the fever higher. Caution: Babies can get over heated easily. They can't take their clothes or blankets off if they are too hot. * For fevers 100°-102° F (37.8° - 39°C), fever meds are rarely needed. Fevers of this level don't cause discomfort. They do help the body fight the infection.
  • FEVER MEDICINE:   * Fevers only need to be treated with medicine if they cause discomfort. Most often, that means fevers above 102°F (39°C). * Give acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen (such as Advil). See the Dose Tables. * Goal of treatment: Bring the temperature down to a comfortable level. Most often, the fever meds only lower the fever by 2° to 3° F (1 - 1.5° C). They do not bring it down to normal. * Do not use aspirin. Reason: Risk of Reye syndrome, a rare but serious brain disease. * Do not use both acetaminophen and ibuprofen together. Reason: Not needed and a risk of giving too much.
  • SPONGING: * Note: Sponging is an option for high fevers, but not required. * When to Use: Fever above 104° F (40° C) AND doesn't come down with fever meds. Always give the fever med first. * How to Sponge: Use lukewarm water (85 - 90° F) (29.4 - 32.2° C). Sponge for 20-30 minutes. * If your child shivers or becomes cold, stop sponging. Other option: You can also make the water warmer. * Caution: Do not use rubbing alcohol. Reason: Can cause a coma.
  • RETURN TO SCHOOL:   * Your child can return to school after the fever is gone. Your child should feel well enough to join in normal activities. 
  • WHAT TO EXPECT:   * Most fevers with viral illnesses range between 101° and 104° F (38.4° and 40° C). * They may last for 2 or 3 days. * They are not harmful.
  • CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF: * Fever goes above 104° F (40° C) * Any fever occurs if less than 12 weeks old * Fever without a cause lasts more than 24 hours (if age less than 2 years) * Fever lasts more than 3 days (72 hours) * Your child becomes worse

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.

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