I’ve usually pretty reasonable about fevers in my kids. I know they’re generally a sign that the immune system is doing its thing and it’s not generally dangerous. I push fluids, put them to bed, and hope that they feel better in the morning. But when my daughter’s temp spiked to 104 yesterday, I called the doctor. 104 is more acute and I wanted a professional opinion.
I spoke with the advice nurse my doctor’s office has on call and went over my daughter’s other symptoms, of which there were basically none. The nurse said to watch her over night then tossed out the R-word: Roseola.
For those of you who haven’t been down this particular path, roseola is a stupid, mean, virus that gives babies a high fever and makes them feel bad for a few days before resolving with a rash on the torso. Here’s what WedMD says about it:
Roseola often starts with a sudden high fever [103°F (39.4°C) to 105°F (40.6°C)] that lasts 2 to 3 days, although it can last up to 8 days. The rapid increase in temperature may be the first sign of roseola and often occurs before you realize that your child has a fever. The fever ends suddenly.
After the fever ends, a rosy-pink rash may appear mostly on the trunk (torso), neck, and arms. The rash is not itchy and may last 1 to 2 days.
In rare cases, a sore throat, stomach ache, vomiting, and diarrhea occur.
A child with roseola may appear fussy or irritable and may have a decreased appetite, but most children behave almost normally.
The virus that causes roseola is part of the herpes family and is spread through contact with an infectious person, usually from coughing or sneezing or chewing on a toy the infected baby chewed on or something like that. It’s extremely common in babies 6 months to 2 years but seldom shows up in children older than 4.
My son had roseola when he was around 10 months old and it was nerve-wracking for us. We’d never heard of it and, since it can’t be diagnosed until the rash appears, we were just frantically trying to control an unexplainable fever in a cranky baby. He wasn’t able to go to daycare for a week and my husband and I were beside ourselves with worry. Finally, after several doctor visits and many sleepless nights, the tell-tale rash showed up and he was fine again.
My daughter is now on day two of high fevers and I’m controlling them with ibuprofen, per my doctor’s instructions. Since she hasn’t developed any other symptoms and she’s acting normally otherwise, I’m just waiting for the rash to show up. Meanwhile, I’m doing what I always do for a fever, fluids and rest. But I’m keeping the doctor’s number nearby just in case.
If you think your child might have roseola or any other illness, please contact your pediatrician!
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