Fevers in children
Most kids get a fever from time to time. Fevers can be a good thing – a fever can be an indicator that the body is fighting off an infection.
But that doesn’t stop you from worrying. How can you bring their fever down? How do you know when to go to your medical provider, and when to treat them at home?
What is a fever?
A fever is an increase in the body’s temperature above normal. We define that as a temperature of 100.4 degrees or above.
What causes a fever?
There are many causes of fever, particularly in children, but the most common are due to infections, either viruses or bacteria.
When should a fever be treated at home, and when should a parent call the child’s medical provider?
Most fevers in children can be treated at home, particularly if your child has other symptoms with it, such as a cold. If you’re concerned, you can always call and talk to your provider’s office. We also recommend talking to your medical provider if your child is not drinking well, not urinating well, or you have other concerns.
How should a fever be treated at home?
Most of the time, fevers can be treated in a couple of ways. You can offer fluids frequently to keep your child hydrated, and allow them to rest. You can also treat fevers with medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
Is a fever more concerning at some ages than at others?
Fevers are more concerning in children when they’re very young, at less than three months of age. It’s less common to have fevers then, and sometimes those fevers can be associated with more serious infections. At less than three months of age, we recommend you call or make an appointment with your medical provider.
How long should a fever last in a child?
In children, most fevers last two to three days, but with some illnesses they can last up to five days.
What are the benefits of a fever?
Fevers are the body’s immune response to an infection, so they are helpful.
At what temperature does a fever become dangerous?
If your child is sick with an illness and is otherwise healthy normally, fevers are not dangerous. However, temperatures of 105 or above are not common, and in those cases, it’s best to contact your child’s provider.
What is the best way for a parent to check to see if their child has a fever?
In children, particularly when they’re younger, it’s best to check the temperature under the arm. In infants, it’s best to have the ability to take a rectal temperature as well, because those are the most accurate. In older children, usually around age 4, kids can do an oral thermometer under the tongue.
Our team is here to help. Same-day appointments are available at all pediatric primary care locations. Call 1-888-573-5437 or visit uichildrens.org/pediatrics for a full list of locations and providers.