If your child has a fever, his or her body temperature is above normal. Normal body temperature in children ranges from 96.8F to100.4F depending on the time of day and whether the temperature is taken under the arm, by mouth, rectally or in the ear. The body’s highest temperature usually occurs in the late afternoon or early evening. Fever is a temperature of 100.4 or more rectally or 99.5 or more orally.
This increase in body temperature is a normal response by the body to fight off an infection. Fever in itself is rarely dangerous or harmful, even at high levels for several days. Because fever helps the body fight infection, you might even say it is healthy!
What can I Do?
- Although controlling the fever may make your child more comfortable, no treatment is needed if your child does appear ill.
- Give medicine for fever if your child feels uncomfortable. You can use acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil). Please see the back of this sheet for the correct dosing. FOR INFANTS LESS THAN 6 MONTHS, CHECK WITH THE PHYSICIAN BEFORE GIVING ANY MEDICATION.
- Because acetaminophen and ibuprofen work in different ways, you may use them both to bring down the child’s fever. If particularly uncomfortable with fever or pain, you may alternate Tylenol and Motrin. For instance, if you give your child acetaminophen and 3 hours later he/she still has a fever, you may then use ibuprofen. You can alternate the two medicines every three hours, but only up to 24 hours. THIS IS FOR SHORT TERM USE ONLY!
- Give the child additional fluids.
- Remove extra clothes and blankets.
- Keep the child’s room at a comfortable temperature.
- Use only lukewarm water to sponge the child (if this is necessary). NEVER USE COLD WATER OR ALCOHOL!
Call the Office if:
- The infant is under 2 months old and has a rectal temperature of 100.4F or higher.
- The child is 2 months to 6 months old and has a rectal temp of 102F or higher.
- The child is 7 months to 2 years and has a temp of 104F or higher.
- The child has severe abdominal pain.
- The child complains of a severe headache or stiff neck.
- The child’s fever begins after prolonged sun exposure.
- The child has a chronic medical problem associated with an increased risk of infection, such as diabetes, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, absent spleen, etc.
Call the Office Immediately if:
- The child is unusually sleepy, difficult to wake and won’t interact normally.
- The child has rapid, difficult or labored breathing.
- The child has a dark red or purple rash that doesn’t blanch or disappear briefly after you push on it.
- The child has a convulsion.
- The child is so irritable that he/she cannot be consoled/quieted.
- The child is not drinking and has signs of dehydration, e.g., not urinating, mouth dry and eyes sunken.