Fever is one of the most concerning medical symptoms that parents have to experience with their children. Most often, fever resolves on its own, but sometimes it requires treatment by professionals.
It has been observed that many new parents consider even a mild temperature rise in their kid’s body as fever. Slight variations of normal body temperature can be caused by several different things, including excessive physical activity and direct exposure to the sun. Let’s learn how to differentiate between a normal fever and one that requires immediate attention by your child’s healthcare provider.
When should you take your child to the doctor for their fever?
A fever of 100-102 degrees Fahrenheit is considered a low-grade fever. This is part of your child’s body’s normal way to fight off germs that cause them to be ill. Low-grade fevers can typically be treated at home with comfort measures such as Tylenol/Motrin, sponge baths and fluids. However, if your child experiences a fever between 100-102 degrees Fahrenheit for 2-3 days or this fever is accompanied by lethargy, difficulty in breathing or other alarming symptoms, its recommended to get them evaluated by their pediatric health care provider.
Fevers between 102-104 degrees Fahrenheit are considered average fevers in children. Children’s biological thermostat tends to turn up faster than adults which is why we often see higher fevers with illnesses. These average fevers can cause your child to feel uncomfortable, but it is part of the body’s natural response to help fight off illness. If the body turns its thermostat up, the germs cannot thrive, and the body has an easier time fighting off the germs. Consider taking your child to their pediatrician if these fevers last beyond 1-2 days.
Fevers above 104 degrees Fahrenheit require evaluation by your pediatrician as soon as possible. If the fever is accompanied by severe symptoms such as extreme lethargy, difficulty in breathing, and other alarming changes in your child’s behavior or extreme pain, you may need to seek immediate medical attention such as that provided by a hospital emergency room. If your child is not having any alarming symptoms outside of the fever, we recommend seeing your child’s pediatric health care provider at the earliest available appointment instead of going to the emergency room.
In the case of infants, treatment and response to fever is different as their immune systems are still immature and they are more susceptible to serious infections that may require more prompt attention. If your child is younger than 3 months, contact your doctor about any fever greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit and do not give any medications for fever without consulting the doctor. It is also important to keep track of your child’s most recent weight so that medication can be dosed appropriately if advised by your pediatrician.
What should I feed my child when they have a fever?
When a child has a fever, the most important thing to consider is keeping the child hydrated. Many children will not want to eat when they are running a fever. This is normal and not concerning behavior. It is however very important to provide fluids to keep them hydrated, especially since the body loses more fluids through increased respiration and sweating when facing a fever. Any fluids that your child will drink are acceptable, though fluids like Pedialyte, Gatorade, juice, water, or sprite are often favorites of sick children. Sometimes foods like jello, popsicles or a milkshake can also entice a child to eat or drink something when they are feeling unwell and won’t eat anything else. These foods will help to keep them hydrated.
Infants require special consideration. If your baby is under the age of 6 months and you are worried that they may be becoming dehydrated due to fever and they won’t drink their normal breastmilk or formula, contact your pediatric office for advice on what best to provide your baby to drink. If your infant is between 6 and 12 months, Pedialyte, formula, or breastmilk are all acceptable to help keep your baby hydrated when facing a fever.
Causes of Fever in Children:
Any health concern can have several causes for its occurrence in the human body. The same is true of fever. Some of the most common reasons we see fever in children are:
- Upper Respiratory Tract Infections
- Ear infections
- Urinary Tract Infections
Our pediatric healthcare providers at Valley Pediatrics are trained to help get to the root cause of your child’s fever, be it one listed above or one of the many other causes of fever in our pediatric patients.
How do you record a child’s fever?
A child’s body temperature can be recorded from their forehead, rectum, armpits, mouth, or ear. Digital thermometers are preferred to glass thermometers as they are easy to read, more precise and less likely to break and harm your child. The following are the most trusted methods by pediatricians to get an accurate body temperature:
To record an accurate oral temperature reading, the digital thermometer is placed under the tongue of the child until the thermometer beeps indicating the temperature has been read and the device can be removed. The method of obtaining a child’s temperature does require them to be able to hold the thermometer under their tongue and leave it there until the reading has been obtained. Due to this, it is not a preferred method for children under 4 years of age, or those older who cannot keep the thermometer in place.
To record an accurate temperature using the ear, ensure you have a thermometer designed to be utilized in the ear. These thermometers typically use infrared sensors to read the temperature of the ear drum. This method of obtaining a child’s temperature is quick and requires little cooperation from the child. It is not suggested in infants younger than 3 months as their ear drums are rarely large enough to accommodate the probe from such thermometers to provide an accurate reading.
This method of obtaining temperature is one of the most accurate and is typically the preferred method for small infants. Using a digital rectal thermometer, place a small amount of lubricant such as KY jelly on the tip of the thermometer and insert it into the child’s rectum about ¼-½ inch and hold the thermometer in place until it beeps indicating the temperature has been obtained.
No matter the method you use to obtain your child’s temperature, if consulting your doctor about a fever, simply report the temperature and the method it was obtained without altering the number in any way.
Best Pediatric Clinic in Guntersville
We understand that taking a child to the clinic can be a challenging task. Therefore, Valley Pediatrics wants to make it as easy as possible for you. We do our best to ensure our little patients feel at home and get the best medical experience possible at our clinic. Experienced and professional pediatric healthcare providers strive to understand each child’s medical history in order to diagnose the current issue and prescribe the appropriate treatment and medications for every child. Whether it is reminding you about the next visit or keeping you up to date regarding your child’s current health, Valley Pediatrics has got you covered. Reach out to us now to book an appointment!