When should I call the doctor?
Doctors take fevers more seriously in younger babies. In the first four to six months of life, it’s a good idea to call the doctor if you note any temperature over 100.4F.
For a child between six and 12 months old, if she has a temperature of 103F or any fever for more than a day, it’s smart to call the doctor to talk about her symptoms.
For kids of all ages, call your doctor if your baby or child:
- Has a temperature of 103F or higher
- Has vomiting or severe diarrhea
- Is lethargic and not responsive to you
- Has signs of dehydration, such as no wet diapers, dry mouth, or sunken soft spot on the head
- Has a rash
- Has a seizure
When should I go directly to the emergency room?
If your child is unresponsive or limp, having trouble breathing, is vomiting and has a stiff neck or headache, has blue lips or skin, or has a seizure, call 911 or go directly to the emergency room.
What method of taking temperature is the most accurate?
A rectal temperature is the most accurate, especially for infants. It’s a good idea to use this method with very young babies so you have the highest level of accuracy, as a high temperature should be taken seriously in the first four to six months of life. After age four or five, an oral temperature is also highly accurate. Ear thermometers can be used for both babies over six months and older children. A digital thermometer under the armpit or a pacifier thermometer are the least accurate ways to measure temperature.
Can a high fever cause brain damage?
Parents often worry that a high or even moderate fever can cause neurological problems, but physicians generally agree that we are more fever-phobic than we need to be. Most doctors say that fevers do not harm the brain or body, and that otherwise healthy kids can handle a fever of 103F or 104F – of course, you need to watch and keep your doctor aware of any other symptoms your child has accompanying a high fever.
What if a fever reducer doesn’t work?
If you’ve tried either acetaminophen or ibuprofen and it hasn’t worked, your doctor may recommend switching to the other medication, or even alternating the two (although there is some debate about whether this is a good practice). Talk to your doctor and read packaging instructions carefully before doing this. Remember that, especially in older babies and children, a fever isn’t necessarily a bad thing – your doctor is more likely to suggest you medicate and treat your child’s other symptoms or discomfort rather than focusing on the number on the thermometer. Also remember that fevers tend to naturally return in the evenings. However, a persistent fever that is difficult to bring down can also be a sign of a more serious infecion so it may be a good idea to bring your child to her doctor to be checked out if this occurs.
How can I bring down my child’s fever without medicine?
Give your child a lukewarm bath (not too cold) and plenty of fluids. Dress her in light, loose clothing.
Why does my child’s temperature keep rising?
Fevers, as with normal body temperatures, tend to go up in the afternoon and evening, so your child’s fever may fluctuate and come back for a few nights in a row.
Should I wake my child in the middle of the night to take her temperature?
Doctors do not recommend waking a sleeping child to check her temperature. You can go in her room to check on her while she’s sleeping, but if she’s very uncomfortable, she’ll likely let you know by waking up on her own.
How dangerous is a high fever?
Many doctors agree that a high fever in itself is not a major concern – the symptoms that accompany a fever are more important. That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on your child’s temperature, but especially for babies over six months of age, to pay closer attention to other symptoms and general wellbeing.
For example, if your child has a high fever but is still drinking, eating, talking, and even playing, that’s a good sign. On the other hand, a child with a low fever who is listless, exhausted, not eating, or disoriented could require more immediate attention.
Can a fever cause seizures?
A small percentage of kids are at risk of seizures from a high fever, and this pattern tends to run in families. Doctors also say that, although scary for parents to watch, a febrile seizure is not necessarily dangerous.
Teething and fevers
There is some debate as to whether the teething process truly causes a fever in babies. If it does, the fever is usually mild, and it’s important to keep an eye out for other symptoms besides a fever (which might indicate an infection), especially in babies under six months old. Most babies get their first tooth around six months of age, and teeth tend to come in sets of two, commonly starting with the bottom front two. The process of getting a full set of teeth usually takes two years.