Understanding Medical Problems

What To Do When Your Child Has A Fever

When your child is ill, it can be very upsetting. When they have a fever, too, it can be downright scary, especially for new parents. Here is what you need to know about how to handle your child's fever.

When Should You See The Doctor?

If your child is under four months old and has a fever, no matter how slight, they should be seen by your pediatrician. If they are not immediately available, then you need to bring them to an urgent care center so they can be assessed. Infants don't have a developed immune system yet, nor have they been sufficiently vaccinated to ward off any common childhood diseases.

A child who has had a febrile seizure, a seizure while they have a fever, should also be taken to the doctor, especially if this is the first time they have had a seizure. Additionally, if your child is complaining of a stiff neck, or in the case of a child who doesn't speak yet, seems unwilling to move, which could be a sign of meningitis, along with vomiting or a severe headache, they need to be seen immediately. A limp and listless child, a rash that looks like bruises, or a blue pallor should also be seen promptly.

How Should A Fever Be Treated?

If after taking your child's temperature, it is below 102 degrees Fahrenheit, unless they are in pain, you don't have to do anything. Parents are always quick to want to give medication to bring the fever down, but the elevated temperature actually helps to kill the invader, reducing the bacteria or virus' ability to replicate. The fever also prompts the body to produce more white blood cells, which are the immune system's primary defenders. Just make sure they get plenty of fluids and rest.

If the fever is above 102 degrees Fahrenheit and below 105 degrees Fahrenheit, you may give your child an age-appropriate does of acetaminophen. Follow the dosing instructions on the package. Offer then a warm bath that is neither cold nor hot. You can also do a sponge bath with tepid water. Don't use rubbing alcohol or cold water. Continue pushing fluids and rest and watch the child carefully, monitoring their temperature after you give a dose of medication. If it doesn't go down, call the doctor or, if it is after hours, bring them into an urgent care center. A fever above 105 degrees Fahrenheit also requires immediate medical attention.