At what point is your child’s fever a cause for concern? Fevers are not actually harmful themselves. In fact, fevers have some benefit, in both signaling when something is wrong inside the body and killing off heat-sensitive bacteria and viruses. But they sure can be uncomfortable for children – and scary for parents.
Children’s temperatures can fluctuate slightly throughout the day and night, but generally speaking, any temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit indicates a pediatric fever. There are a few things to keep in mind when treating your child’s fever, and determining whether or not medical intervention is warranted:
- For infants, four months and younger: Always use a rectal thermometer, and treat every fever as needing attention from a doctor. Typically, infants should be examined for any fevers that occur.
- For babies, toddlers, and children, up to age 11: Seek medical attention if the fever exceeds 103 degrees, lasts more than five days, does not improve with over-the-counter fever-reducing medicines, or if the child is just not acting like him- or herself. Observe carefully for accompanying symptoms like neck stiffness, rash or hives, trouble breathing, uncontrollable vomiting, blood in stool, or severe headache. If your child’s fever is high and they experience of these symptoms, you should seek immediate treatment.
- For teens: Severe fevers are cause for concern when they exceed 103 degrees or if they last more than seven days and do not improve with over-the-counter medicines. Seek immediate medical attention if the fever is accompanied by confusion, neck stiffness, severe headache, rash or hives, hot and swollen areas of the skin, leg swelling, chest pain, trouble breathing, painful urination, blood in stool, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, drooling, or excessive vomiting.
In children, illnesses or infections that cause fevers can also lead to dangerous levels of dehydration. High fevers can lead to febrile seizures. These complications are easily avoided with intervention from one of our health care professionals, so err on the side of caution with your child’s fever.
Most of the time, fevers are a naturally occurring part of fighting off minor illnesses and infections, and are merely uncomfortable, not cause for concern. However, as a parent, if you are concerned, please do not hesitate to bring in your child for an evaluation. Trust your instincts. If something just does not seem right when a fever is present, seek medical attention.
Patient Care Now Urgent Care is open seven days a week, making it possible for you to get the attention your child needs, when they need it. No appointment is needed in order to see one of our many emergency medicine physicians; you can walk in anytime. We offer online check in for your convenience.