It’s only natural to worry when your child has a fever. In rare cases, a fever can be a sign of serious illness, but most childhood fevers are simply a sign that your child’s fighting an infection. Austin, Texas parents recommend the Pediatric Nurse Practitioners at After Hours Kids to evaluate and treat fevers in infants and children.
Fever is your body’s natural mechanism for fighting off infection. In those over 4 months old, a low-grade fever of 100.4-101 degrees can usually be treated at home without an office visit. If your child’s fever ranges between 101 and 103 degrees, you might call your pediatrician’s office and describe any other symptoms to see if an office evaluation is needed. A high fever of 104 degrees or more that doesn't respond to home treatment should be evaluated by a healthcare provider. A fever lasting more than 5 days should be evaluated by a pediatrician or a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. Any child under 3 months of age needs to be evaluated urgently for any fever of 100.4 or greater.
Symptoms of fever include: feeling warm to the touch, looking flushed, or complaints of feeling hot (or cold if chills are present). If your child is young or nonverbal, you may need to look for related symptoms to determine the presence of a fever. If you think your child might have a fever, it’s helpful to take his or her temperature to determine the degree of fever.
Symptoms of fever in infants and very young children include:
For older children, you may hear complaints of:
The most common causes of childhood fevers are respiratory viral infections. Fevers may be due to infection in the ears, throat, sinus cavities, bladder, and gastrointestinal system or involve the skin. More serious causes of fever include pneumonia and meningitis.
The first step in treating a childhood fever is determining the cause of the infection through history and physical exam. If a fever is caused by bacterial infection, antibiotics are also prescribed. If the fever is caused by a viral illness, supportive care is recommended. Supportive care includes giving your child oral doses of acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) to reduce the fever. Monitoring your child’s temperature in the days immediately following a fever is also important to make sure their condition continues to improve.