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|Does this describe your child's symptoms?|
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Your child has a fever if:
Fever and Crying
Normal Variation of Temperature
Return to School
|When to Call Your Doctor|
|Call 911 Now (your child may need an ambulance) If|
|Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If|
|Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If|
|Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If|
|Parent Care at Home If|
|HOME CARE ADVICE FOR FEVER|
- Reassurance: Presence of a fever means your child has an infection, usually caused by a virus. Most fevers are good for sick children and help the body fight infection. Use the following definitions to help put your child's level of fever into perspective:
- 100°-102°F (37.8° - 39°C) Low grade fevers: beneficial, desirable range
- 102°-104°F (39 - 40°C) Average fever: beneficial
- 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) Dangerous fever: fever itself can cause brain damage
- Treatment for All Fevers: Extra Fluids and Less Clothing
- Give cold fluids orally in unlimited amounts (Reason: good hydration replaces sweat and improves heat loss from the skin).
- Dress in 1 layer of light weight clothing and sleep with 1 light blanket (avoid bundling). (Caution: overheated infants can't undress themselves.)
- For fevers 100°-102° F (37.8° - 39°C), this is the only treatment needed (fever medicines are unnecessary).
- Fever Medication:
- Fevers only need to be treated with medicine if they cause discomfort. That usually means fevers above 102°F (39°C).
- Give acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) or ibuprofen (e.g., Advil). See the dosage charts.
- The goal of fever therapy is to bring the temperature down to a comfortable level. Remember, the fever medicine usually lowers the fever by 2° to 3° F (1 - 1.5° C).
- Avoid aspirin (Reason: risk of Reye's syndrome, a rare but serious brain disease)
- Avoid alternating acetaminophen and ibuprofen (Reason: unnecessary and risk of overdosage)
- Note: Sponging is optional for high fevers, not required.
- Indication: May sponge for (1) fever above 104° F (40° C) AND (2) doesn't come down with acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) or ibuprofen (always give fever medicine first).
- How to sponge: Use lukewarm water (85 - 90° F) (29.4 - 32.2° C). Do not use rubbing alcohol. Sponge for 20-30 minutes.
- If your child shivers or becomes cold, stop sponging or increase the water temperature.
- Contagiousness: Your child can return to child care or school after the fever is gone and your child feels well enough to participate in normal activities.
- Expected Course of Fever: Most fevers associated with viral illnesses fluctuate between 101° and 104° F (38.4° and 40° C) and last for 2 or 3 days.
- Call Your Doctor If:
- Fever goes above 104° F (40° C) repeatedly
- Any fever occurs if under 12 weeks old
- Fever without a cause persists over 24 hours (if age less than 2 years)
- Fever persists over 3 days (72 hours)
- Your child becomes worse
And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended 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.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
Last Reviewed: 11/14/2011
Last Revised: 11/14/2011
Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker
Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.