Understanding Fevers in Your Child in Chicago
Fevers can worry parents, and the higher the temperature and the lower the age of the kids, the more parents worry. Is all this worry necessary? Very, very rarely, says Alzein Pediatrics and Angela Boomsma.
Don’t fear the fever. We’re here to explain fever protocol, including the answers to questions that are asked whenever a fever happens: Should you administer medication? What if the temperature doesn’t go down? When should you call our office? When should you go to Urgent Care? How high does the fever have to go before it becomes dangerous?
Why do we “run” a fever?
Elevating temperature is the body’s way of fighting an infection, such as the flu virus. A fever indicates that the immune system is doing its job to fight invading viruses, bacteria and such. When the body elevates temperature, the work within the body or the metabolic rate, increases. A fever decreases the ability of viruses and bacteria to reproduce. A fever can shorten the duration of the illness.
What is “Normal?”
The standard normal body temperature is considered to be 98.6°F. But in actuality, normal is a range, anywhere from 97°F to 99°F. When a person’s body temperature becomes elevated to 100.4°F or higher, they are considered to have a “true” fever.
CAUTION – Infants under three months old
When your baby is under three months old and runs a temperature of 100.4°F or over (taken rectally), call Alzein Pediatrics immediately; you may be instructed to take your child to the nearest emergency room as a precaution. Do not wait, as a temperature in a neonate could be indicative of serious illness.
Should I give medicine as soon as I detect a fever?
Angela says, “Look at your child and see how they are feeling.” If your child has a fever of 100.4°F to 102°F but is playing and eating, it’s usually not necessary to administer medication.
If your child is feeling unwell with a temperature in the range of 100.4°F to 102.2°F, administer the recommended dosage of ibuprofen or acetaminophen. If the temperature does not decrease within two hours, call our office. Most likely, we will verify the dose you administered, and perhaps recommend another fever medication and an appointment.
Do I have “Fever Phobia?”
“Fever phobia” is described as “unrealistic and exaggerated misconceptions” about fever, including the thought that any fever can cause seizures or serious neurological complications. In reality, brain damage from a fever generally does not occur unless the temperature is over 107.6°F.
Angela reassures families to be pleased that children’s bodies are fighting infection; fevers are nothing to fear. The degree of temperature does not correlate nor indicate the severity of illness nor indicate the need for antibiotics; many viruses can cause high fevers and cannot be treated with antibiotics.
If you are afraid a temperature may cause febrile seizures, remember that these seizures tend to run in families. These seizures do not occur because of a high temperature but happen because of a rapid increase in temperature. Most children who experience febrile seizures outgrow them by age 5, do not require any seizure medications, and do not suffer any long term consequences.
When should I call Alzein Pediatrics in Chicago about a fever?
Call our office as soon as possible when your infant under 3 months of age is running a temperature of 100.4˚F or higher.
Call our office when your child older than 3 months:
- has a temperature in the range of 102.2˚F to 104˚F
- when a fever has lasted more than three days
- when the fever does not respond to ibuprofen or acetaminophen within 2 hours
- when your child has neck stiffness or confusion.
Whenever a temperature hits 105°F or above, head to Urgent Care.
Besides Pain Relievers, What Can I do to Make my Child Comfortable Faster?
Time and sleep are typically the best ways to resolve a mild fever, letting your child’s immune system do battle with the infection.
Be sure your child is drinking lots of water, Pedialyte or warm (not hot) clear broth. Turn off screens to encourage your child to sleep. A lukewarm bath or a cool cloth applied to the forehead, behind the knees and under the arms can also help lower body temperature.
As parents, we want to make our kids feel better as quickly as possible. Fortunately, fevers are most often minor and will usually go away within a day or two with minimal treatment.
When you have questions about fevers or other symptoms, message us through your portal. We are always happy to help.