What to Know About Your Child’s Fever

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Author: Michelle Kolsi, M.D.

Children and fevers seem to go hand in hand. From flu to ear infections, many children’s first symptoms of a more serious illness is a fever. For parents, there are few more concerning symptoms than their child’s high temperature. Michelle Kolsi, MD, treats fevers and their subsequent illnesses in children in and around Glendale, California.

Does my child have a fever?

A fever is a temporary increase in your body temperature. Many people assume that anything above 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit is a fever, but this is not actually the case. In fact, every person experiences a normal fluctuation of body temperature throughout the day with their highest body temperature coming in the late afternoon or early evening and their lowest body temperature happening between midnight and dawn. A child is considered feverish if they have a rectal temperature of more than 100.4 degrees F (38 degrees Celsius) or an oral temperature of more than 99 degrees F (37.2 degrees Celsius).

What causes fevers?

By itself, a fever is not considered an illness, but a sign that the body is trying to ward off infection. A fever causes the white blood cells, the body’s natural defense system, to attack and destroy any invading bacteria. This means that a fever actually helps your child fight an infection faster than without it. Most commonly, a fever is an indication of an upper respiratory illness such as sore throats, colds, flu, ear infections, or pneumonia.

How are fevers treated?

Since fevers are not considered illnesses, they are generally not treated on their own without examining the reason why the a patient has a fever in the first place. If your child is experiencing any of the following, contact Dr. Kolsi’s office for an immediate consult:

  • Shows signs of dehydration such as fewer wet diapers, a dry mouth, or a sunken soft spot
  • Has had a seizure
  • Is younger than 3 months (12 weeks) and has a temperature of 100.4 degrees F (38 degrees C) or higher
  • Fever rises above 104 degrees F (40 degrees C) repeatedly for a child of any age
  • Your child seems to be getting worse
  • The fever persists for more than 24 hours in a child younger than 2 years
  • The fever persists for more than 3 days (72 hours) in a child 2 years of age or older

Most of the time, a fever will go away on its own within 2-3 days without treatment. However, your child is likely to be uncomfortable during this time. They may need more fluids, have an increased heart rate, or seem to be breathing faster than normal. Dr. Kolsi is happy to examine patients with fevers to ensure they don’t need additional treatment. In the meantime, have your child drink plenty of fluids and rest as much as possible to allow the body to do its job.

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