Fever is one of the most common reasons a child is brought to the doctor. Believe it or not, fever is not harmful in most cases! Fever usually occurs as a response to a viral or bacterial infection in the body. Fever is one of the body’s amazing built-in immune responses. When the body’s immune system recognizes a virus or bacteria in the body, it signals the brain to increase the core temperature of the body in order to assist the body in fighting the illness. A body temperature is considered a fever when it reaches 100.4 °F or higher. A fever will usually cause an increase in heart rate and respiratory rate. Chills can also occur as the body’s temperature increases.
What to do if your child has a fever? The most important thing to remember is to keep your child hydrated. It is easy for a child to become dehydrated while having fever for two reasons: insensible fluid loss (i.e. breathing faster and therefore burning off fluids more quickly) and decreased fluid intake, usually because the child with fever can become uncomfortable and fatigued. Encouraging increased fluid intake is a must!
To medicate or not to medicate? It is OK to let a child have fever and to hold off on administering medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. I recommend medicating the child with fever if the child is uncomfortable. The goal is to keep your child comfortable and hydrated!
When is it time to see a doctor? Viral infections are the most common cause of fever. Currently we live in a world that has been turned upside down by COVID 19. As of August 2020, only about 7% of the positive cases of COVID 19 in the U.S. were among children. Although most cases of COVID 19 are adults at this time, it is important to rule out COVID 19 in a child with fever before he/she returns to daycare or school setting.
- Any child between 3-6 months of age with fever should be evaluated within 24 hours.
- A child less than 2 years old should be evaluated if fever has been present for greater than 24 hours.
- An older child with fever for more than 3 days needs to be evaluated
- A child whose fever resolved for more than 24 hours and then returned should also be seen.
When do you go to ER? Fever in an infant under 3 months of age is very concerning. An infant under 3 months of age with a rectal temperature of 100.4 F or greater needs to be taken to the emergency department immediately for further evaluation.
If your child has fever along with difficulty breathing, severe headache, confusion, stiff neck, or refusal to drink with decreased urine output, call your child’s doctor immediately or take child to emergency department.
Always consult with your child’s doctor with any concerns you have about your child’s health and well-being! This is general information about fever in children and should not replace guidance from your child’s doctor.
Little Spurs Pediatric Urgent Care opened in 2006 in San Antonio, Texas. With multiple locations in San Antonio and Dallas, they are open seven days a week with extended evening hours and see walk-in patients or through an online check-in system. They accept most commercial insurance and Medicaid plans. More information about Little Spurs Pediatric Urgent Care can be found at www.littlespurspedi.com.