Although fevers are common in children, how to handle them can create anxiety for parents. To ease this stress, pediatrician Dr. Tamika Patilla answers some of parents’ most burning questions about fevers.
What temperature is a fever?
- Parents are accustomed to recognizing 98.6 as the baseline for a normal body temperature, but body temperature can shift throughout the day. It’s not a fever until your child’s temperature has reached 100.4 or higher.
Should I treat my child’s fever?
- If your child has a fever, it can be tempting to reach for a fever reducer right away, but the important thing is to look at how your child is acting.
- A fever should be treated based on how your child is feeling. If they are uncomfortable, go ahead and treat the fever. If they are acting fine, let it go.
- Whether you treat your child’s fever or not, you should only check their temperature again if they start acting uncomfortable.
How can I treat my child’s fever?
- You can give your child popsicles and fluids to start. If your child is over six months of age, you can also give them a fever reducing medicine like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Do not give your child aspirin.
- Dress your child in light clothing or give them a lukewarm bath. If you give them a bath, avoid using cool water as this can cause shivering, which can raise body temperature.
Are there any benefits to a fever?
- A fever is the body’s way of fighting an illness and it can also alert you to the start of an illness. In addition to raising the body’s core temperature, a fever stimulates the body’s immune system, telling it to send white blood cells to fight the infection.
When should my child receive medical attention for a fever?
- A fever can require emergency care if your child is less than three months age, if they look very sick, are dehydrated, have a severe headache, neck pain, or difficulty breathing. You should contact your child’s doctor if their fever is lasting longer than 3 days, if you don’t see a good reason for a fever, cold symptoms for example, or something else is concerning you.
Is there a certain type of thermometer I use to take my child’s temperature?
- According to Dr. Patilla, use whatever kind of thermometer makes you most comfortable, but if your child is three months or younger, you should use a rectal thermometer.