As a parent, you hate to see your child get sick. And if they develop a fever, it can be downright scary. The good news is that not all fevers are cause for alarm.
The board-certified providers at Wasatch Peak Family Practice and Oceans Contours in Layton, Utah, understand how stressful it can be when your child is unwell. Our team specializes in pediatric care, helping diagnose and treat many childhood issues — including the underlying causes of fevers.
Here’s a closer look at childhood fevers and the signs that it’s time to call your pediatrician for medical care.
Understanding childhood fevers
Chances are you’ve been told that the normal human body temperature is 98.6°F. But the truth is that “normal” is actually a range of temperatures between 97°F and 99°F, with many fluctuations based on time of day, physical activity, and other factors.
Body temperatures rise when your immune system tries to combat the things that make you sick, like illness and infection. For children under 3 months old, doctors define a fever as a body temperature above 100.4°F when taken with an ear, temporal artery, or rectal thermometer.
Keep in mind that children tend to get fevers more often and at higher temperatures than adults. In addition, they can have relatively high fevers and not experience as much discomfort as you might with the same temperature.
When to manage your child’s fever at home
Kids sometimes get fevers without other symptoms of illness or infection. But a fever is a sign that their body is fighting some kind of illness, so if your child has a fever, keep them home. This way they won’t infect others.
If your child has a fever but isn’t experiencing any discomfort, encourage them to drink fluids but don’t feel like you need to give them medicine as long as their fever is 102°F or below. In the meantime, monitor their temperature periodically and track their behavior to make sure they’re not getting worse.
When children feel unwell with a fever — if they say they’re in pain, don’t want to eat or drink, or simply act especially tired, fussy, or lethargic — you can help manage their fever with over-the-counter medicines that help lower their temperature.
Never give aspirin to children unless directed to do so by your doctor. Instead, look for products like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, and be sure to follow the instructions on the package for dosages or ask your pediatrician how much medicine to administer.
You can also help your child stay comfortable with cool compresses, managing the temperature of your home, and making sure they don’t get too hot because of blankets or too many articles of clothing.
When to call your pediatrician about a fever
Always call your provider at Wasatch Peak Family Practice & Ocean Contours right away or head to the nearest emergency room if you have a baby 3 months or younger who develops any temperature above 100.4°F. You should also call for advice for:
- Children between 3 months and 3 years: Call your provider for a fever over 102.2°F
- Children under age 2: Call if the fever lasts more than 24 hours
- Children over age 3: Call your provider for a fever higher than 104°F
You should always call our office anytime your child is sick and you’re feeling uncomfortable or worried about their health. However, there are times you should get help sooner rather than later. Here are signs to look for that mean it’s time to get medical help:
- A fever that doesn’t respond to at-home treatments
- A fever that lasts more than five days
- Your child has a seizure (if it lasts for more than 5 minutes, call 911)
- Your child got an immunization and develops a fever for more than 2 days
- Your child’s behavior drastically changes
- Your child has a fever and isn’t drinking enough
Learn more about childhood fevers and when to get help by scheduling an appointment with a provider at Wasatch Peak Family Practice and Oceans Contours.