Fever Management

When your child gets a fever, you want to do your best to make them feel comfortable and keep them safe. This article outlines how you can effectively manage your child’s fever. We will also discuss how to monitor a fever and understand possible causes.

If you’re concerned about your child’s fever after normal doctor’s office hours, consider reaching out to After Hours Kids in Austin, Texas. Our doctors are on hand in the evenings, 7 days a week. Visit us today!

What Defines a Fever?

Your child has a fever when their body temperature reaches 100.4°F (38°C) or higher. When they are fighting off an infection, the body temperature usually rises to stimulate the immune response. The higher temperature may also help to kill off the germs.

How Body Temperature is Measured

You can measure your child’s body temperature with a digital thermometer. The temperature that indicates a fever will depend on the location where you take the measurement. Some locations are more accurate than others.

The best location to measure your child’s temperature depends on their age. The following methods can be used to measure their temperature depending on your child’s age:

  • For children 3 years old and younger: The most accurate place to measure the temperature is the rectum. A reading of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher is a fever.
  • Children 4 years or older: You can measure their temperature orally. A reading of 100°F (37.8°C) or higher is a fever.
  • Any age: You can measure the forehead temperature, where 100.4°F (38°C) or higher is considered a fever, or under the armpit, where 99°F (37.2°C) is considered a fever at any age. A measurement from inside the ear is also possible in kids over 6 months old. The ear temperature indicating a fever is 100.4°F (38°C) or higher.

When is a Fever Dangerous?

Your child’s fever will generally not cause harm unless it exceeds 105°F by 1-2 degrees. If you have given your child medication to reduce a fever and it is still rising towards 105°F, seek medical attention immediately.

What Else Could Indicate Fever Symptoms?

If your child has a fever, you may also notice they have other symptoms. The following symptoms may accompany their fever:

  • They may be more irritable or quieter than normal
  • Their breathing or heart rate may be elevated
  • Their skin could be red or blushed
  • They may have chills or maybe sweating
  • They could have a headache
  • Febrile seizures are possible

Why Could My Child Have a Fever?

An infection is normally the cause of a fever. The body responds this way to stimulate the immune system. Other reasons why your child may have a fever are as follows:

  • Too many clothes: Newborn babies cannot regulate their body temperature like older children can. Therefore, they can develop a fever if they are overdressed, wrapped in a blanket, or in a hot environment.
  • Vaccine shots: Your child may get a fever when taking certain vaccines. This type of fever will usually pass within a day.
  • Teething: Teething can cause a slight increase in body temperature. However, it’s unlikely to cause the temperature to pass 100°F (37.8°C).

Should I Give My Child Medication for a Fever?

It’s not usually necessary to give your child medication for a fever. However, if you notice that they have pain or are not drinking fluids, then you could give them acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) if they are over 6 months old. Look for specific medication for kids and follow the recommended doses and frequency.

Never give your child aspirin unless your doctor tells you to. A rare but potentially dangerous condition called Ryes Syndrome has been linked to the use of aspirin.

When to See a Doctor for Fever

When your child’s fever reaches a certain temperature, it is advisable to go to the doctor. This temperature will depend on their age. The following can help you decide when to go:

  • Younger than 3 months old: Rectal temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher.
  • 3 months or older: Temperature greater than 102.2°F (39°C).
  • Any age: If they have a fever as well as a health problem, like cancer or sickle cell disease.
 

You may also call your child’s health care provider if:

  • They refuse fluids or appear too ill to drink
  • Has diarrhea or vomiting
  • Looks dehydrated
  • Complaints about a sore throat or earache
  • Fever continues after 2–3 days
  • Develops a rash
  • Has pain while urinating
 

Go to the emergency department if your child:

  • Has uncontrollable crying
  • Is extremely irritable or fussy
  • Is lethargic or difficult to wake up
  • Developed a rash or purple spots
  • Has bluish lips, tongue, or nails
  • Has bulging or sunken soft spots (in infants)
  • Has a stiff neck
  • Has a severe headache
  • Is limp or refuses to move
  • Has difficulty breathing
  • Had a seizure
  • Has moderate to severe abdominal pain

Fever Management

If your child has a fever, you should make sure they rest and drink plenty of fluids. As mentioned earlier, treatment is not usually necessary for a fever unless your child has difficulties drinking or has pain.

Your child’s skin may appear more red or they may sweat when they have a fever. This is their natural response to maintaining normal body temperature. You can help manage their fever by doing the following:

  • Give them extra fluids to help prevent dehydration
  • Dress them in light clothing, as too many clothes will trap body heat
  • Let them eat what they feel like eating; however, don’t force them to eat
  • Let them rest
  • Use rehydration solutions after vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Pass a wet washcloth on their foreheads or wrists
  • Avoid using cold showers or baths to reduce fever

Key Takeaway Regarding Fever Management

Fevers are not usually something you need to worry about. Even healthy children get a fever from time to time. Children will usually get over a fever in a few days without treatment.

As well as measuring their temperature, you should keep a close eye on your child’s behavior. This often serves as a good guide to how they are dealing with the fever.

If you notice any severe symptoms or if their temperature is rising to a dangerous level, seek immediate medical assistance. For further guidance and educational resources on managing fevers in children, be sure to explore reputable patient education materials.

Visit Our Providers After Hours Today

If you have any concerns about your child’s fever, contact After Hour Kids in Austin, Texas. Our doctors are on hand every evening, 7 days a week. Our dedicated team can provide the support your child needs when they need it. Visit us today!

AUTHOR

AHK Advanced Practice Provders

Our AHK APP’s include: Annie Croft, Pam Dietrich, Erin Moore, and Nikki Nutter,