The definition of Fever is a temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius).
Why do children get a fever?
Fever is the body’s response to illness. It is a sign that the body is activating its defenses to fight an infection.
Fever can last between three to five days, up to seven days with many childhood illnesses.
How to take a temperature:
The most accurate methods of temperature taking:
Age 0-6 months: Rectally (in the bottom)
6 months-8 years: Axillary (under the arm)
>8 years: Axillary or Orally (under the tongue)
Rectal is always the most accurate, but as children get older it isn’t tolerated very well. And oral temperatures are only accurate once your child has the maturity to stay in one spot, keeping his/her lips closed around the thermometer as it sits in his/her mouth.
A note about thermometers –
The otic (ear) thermometers are extremely easy and popular, yet do not consistently give accurate readings. Because of this we have stopped using them in our office and prefer using the methods I’ve mentioned above.
Should you be worried?
Fever, in and of itself, is not dangerous until it is 107 degrees Fahrenheit. The reason we work to bring a child’s fever down is because it can be very uncomfortable to have a fever. So it is a comfort issue, usually, more than anything else. If you bring a fever down and your child is acting well then he/she is probably fine. If you bring your child’s temperature down and he/she is acting unwell, you should see a doctor.
How to bring the fever down
Never use aspirin in a child or adolescent. It can have very serious complications.
Tylenol/Acetaminophen (see medication dosing link) every 4-6 hours.
Advil/Motrin/Ibuprofen (see medication dosing link) – only in children >6 months old, every 6-8 hours.
Cooling measures: tepid baths (not too warm). Alternatively you can wet your child’s head/hair with cool water – effective and less disruptive than a bath for a clingy unhappy child.
Call your doctor if:
- Your child is less than 2 months old
- Your child’s fever is above 106 degrees Fahrenheit
- Your child remains unhappy and is not at least 80% back to normal when the fever is gone
- Your child has pain with urination AND vomiting
- Your child has a rash that is purplish or a deep red that does not blanche with pressure
- Your child has an underlying medical problem or is undergoing treatment that affects the immune system
- Your child seems very ill or has a severe headache.
- The fever does not respond to correct dosing of medications
- The fever lasts longer than 3-5 days
- You feel that something is just not right – remember, no one knows your child like you do!
-Monique Araya, MD, FAAP
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