Fever

General Overview:

Fever means that the body temperature is higher than normal. The average normal body temperature is 98.6 F. Fever is defined as a temperature greater than 100.4 F. Temperatures below normal are usually not worrisome unless they occur in very young babies. 

Fever itself is not an illness but is a sign that the body is fighting an infection.  Most fevers are beneficial, not harmful. Fever alone will never causes brain damage unless the fever is very high (over 106 or 107 F). Although fever doesn't cause damage,  it can make a child uncomfortable. The usual reason for trying to lower a child's fever is to make him or her more comfortable.

What follows is information on management of fevers.

Management:

Always check temperature with a thermometer. Feeling the forehead for a skin temperature is not a reliable indicator of fever.  In babies, check the temperature rectally.  Ear thermometers are not accurate in babies.

Here is more information on the most accurate way to measure your child's Temperature from the American Academy of Pediatrics
 

  • Call our office immediately for any temperature greater than 100.4 F rectally in a baby under three months old.

  • Call our office if the fever is associated with seizures, neck pain, rash, difficulty breathing, inconsolable persistent crying, difficulty arousing your child, or if you are unsure if your child should see a doctor.

  • Dress your child lightly.

  • Encourage your child to drink extra

Medications:

  • 3-6 months: Acetaminophen (Tylenol, Tempra, Panadol) may be given every four hour if he or she has a fever and seems uncomfortable. If your child seems comfortable and is sleeping well, do not feel that you must disturb him or her to give medication.

  • Over 6 months: If your child is over six months old, you may give acetaminophen (Tylenol®, Tempra®, Panadol®) every four hours, or ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®) every six hours when he or she has a fever and seems uncomfortable. If your child seems comfortable and is sleeping well, you do not need to give him or her medication

  • If your child is taking antibiotics for a bacterial infection (ear infection, Strep throat, pneumonia) it is fine to use acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain control along with the antibiotic. For dosing information, click Acetaminophen Dosing or Ibuprofen Dosing

Takeaway Message:

While fever can be frightening in a child it is not harmful and does not require treatment.  Treatment should be given for comfort, not to lower a child’s temperature. If you have any questions or concerns, please call our office to discuss them.

Additional Resources:

For additional information about the causes and management of fevers from the American Academy of Pediatrics see the following link:

Fever Without Fear