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Fever in children

Vaccines | Allergies | Obesity | Mental Health | Nutrition | Pediatricians

Fever in children is a common symptom and usually indicates that the body is responding to an infection or illness. In most cases, fever itself is not harmful and can be a natural part of the body’s defense mechanism. However, it can be concerning for parents and caregivers, especially when it occurs in young children. Here’s what you should know about fever in children:

1. What Is Fever?

  • Fever is defined as an elevation in body temperature above the normal range, which is typically around 98.6°F (37°C) when measured orally. In children, a fever is generally considered to be a body temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher.

2. Common Causes of Fever in Children:

  • Infections: Fever is often a sign that the body is fighting off an infection, such as a viral or bacterial illness.
  • Immunizations: Some vaccines may cause a low-grade fever as a side effect.
  • Overdressing or Environment: Sometimes, fever can be caused by overdressing or being in a hot environment.
  • Teething: Some children may experience a mild fever during teething, although this is debated among experts.
  • Inflammatory Conditions: Certain inflammatory conditions or autoimmune diseases can lead to fever.

3. When to Be Concerned:

  • In most cases, fever by itself is not a cause for concern, especially if the child is otherwise well, active, and alert.
  • However, you should seek medical attention or consult a healthcare provider if your child:
    • Is an infant under 3 months old with a rectal temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher.
    • Is between 3 and 6 months old with a fever of 101°F (38.3°C) or higher.
    • Is inconsolable, lethargic, or not responding to you.
    • Has a stiff neck, severe headache, or persistent vomiting.
    • Has difficulty breathing, a persistent cough, or a rash.
    • Has underlying medical conditions that may complicate fever, such as heart disease or immunodeficiency.

4. Managing Fever:

  • The goal of fever management is to make the child more comfortable while monitoring for any concerning symptoms.
  • Keep the child well-hydrated by offering fluids like water, clear broths, or oral rehydration solutions.
  • Dress the child in light clothing to help dissipate heat.
  • Use fever-reducing medications (antipyretics) like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) according to the recommended dosages for your child’s age and weight. Always follow the dosing instructions on the packaging or as advised by a healthcare provider.

5. Fever Duration:

  • Most fevers in children are short-lived and resolve within a few days as the body fights off the underlying illness.
  • If a fever persists for more than a few days, or if new or worsening symptoms develop, seek medical attention for further evaluation.

It’s important for parents and caregivers to remain calm and monitor their child’s overall condition when dealing with fever. While fever can be uncomfortable, it is often a sign that the body’s immune system is working to combat an infection. If you have concerns about your child’s fever or their overall health, do not hesitate to consult with a healthcare provider for guidance and appropriate care.

The Pediatric.me content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice or as a substitute for medical advice of a physician