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Fever Facts

 

A fever is one of the most common symptoms in pediatrics and indicates that your child's immune system is functioning well. It is important to remember that a fever is a symptom and not a disease. A fever indicates an increase in body temperature which can be caused by many different factors including an infection. One of the best defense mechanisms against an infection is in fact a fever. Fevers are usually not harmful and may range from 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. It is also important to remember that the height of the fever does not relate to the seriousness of the illness. We hope that the following information, adapted from the American Academy of Pediatrics, will ease some of your concerns and help you manage a fever at home.

Attention! 

If your child is under 3 months of age and has a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or greater (rectal or axillary), please call the doctor immediately. 

Classification of Fevers

 

Mild:                 100.4 - 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit

 

Moderate:        102 - 104 degrees Fahrenheit

 

High:                  > 104 degrees Fahrenheit

 

*based on rectal temperature 

Dosage Charts

Tylenol

(acetaminophen)

 

Motrin/Advil

(ibuprofen)

Fever Fear: Will My Child Have a Seizure?

 

  • a small percentage of children have a seizure caused by a fever

  • usually occurs in children between 6 months and 6 years of age

  • caused by how quickly the temperature rises (not how high the fever is) 

  • febrile seizures, though frightening, usually do not result in long-term consequences

  • call your doctor immediately if you suspect your child has had a febrile seizure 

Click here to learn how to measure your child's temperature!

Treatment of Fevers

 

  • Medications

    • use only if the fever is 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit or greater

    • usually work within 1 hour after given

    • will reduce a fever by 1.5-2 degrees Fahrenheit

    • may need repeated doses (according to the appropriate time interval) to manage fever

    • do not need to administer if your child is sleeping comfortably

    • please see dosage chart above for acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil)

  • Extra Fluids

    • body fluids are lost due to sweating during fevers

    • encourage your child to take some extra fluids to replace those losses 

  • Less Clothing

    • most body heat is eliminated through the skin surface

    • keep your child in one layer of lightweight clothing at home 

    • bundling a child can be dangerous

    • if your child feels cold or starts to shiver, offer a light blanket or warm drink

  • Sponging

    • ​usually not necessary to reduce fever 

    • never sponge your child without first giving a fever medication

    • sponge immediately only in emergencies

    • sponge your child only if the fever is over 103 degrees Fahrenheit and the fever has stayed that high 45 minutes after giving medication or if your child is uncomfortable

    • until the medication has taken effect, sponging will only cause shivering which is the body's attempt to raise the temperature

    • goal is to reduce the fever by a few degrees, not eliminate it

    • never use rubbing alcohol either alone or in the sponging water

    • how to sponge: 

      • sit your child in 2 inches of lukewarm water

      • wet the skin surface continually for about 20 minutes

      • if your child shivers, warm the warm slightly or wait for the fever medication to take effect

      • never leave your child unattended in the tub!

 

Do not give any aspirin product to a child under 21 years of age

When to Call the Pediatrician:

 

  • call immediately if:

    • your child looks or acts very ill 

    • you think your child has had a seizure

    • your child is less than 3 months of age and has a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or greater

    • your child is crying inconsolably

    • your child cries if you touch him or move him

    • your child is difficult to awaken

    • your child complains of a stiff neck and cannot touch the chin to chest without pain

    • purple spots are present on the skin 

    • breathing is labored

    • your child is drooling excessively or having trouble swallowing saliva

    • your baby's soft spot is bulging when he is sitting up quietly

    • there is redness, tenderness, or swelling over an arm or leg

    • there is redness or swelling around the eye, or pain with eye movements

    • your child walks with a limp or refuses to move a leg joint

    • your child has a compromised immune system or anemia

  • call within 24 hours if:

    • your child complains of pain with urination

    • your child complains of ear pain

    • your child complains of a sore throat 

    • fever lasts more than 24 hours without any other symptoms

  • call during regular office hours if: 

    • fever lasts more than 3 days (with associated cold symptoms)

    • fever resolves for more than 24 hours and then returns

Remember: we have telephone triage service available 24/7!