Fever in Children: When to Give the Doctor A Call?

 Every parent should understand that fever itself is not an illness, your child’s body temperature could suddenly go up due to a number of factors, such as overdressing, post-immunization discomfort, and when your child’s immune system is actively fighting some infections. So, when is the right time to call your doctor for help?

Taking your child’s temperature

The best way to detect if your child is down with a fever or not is to take his/her body temperature. Use any of the methods below based on the relevant conditions:

  • Rectal: You can use a rectal thermometer for a child under 4 or 5 months. Your child has a fever if his/her temperature is above 100.4o F
  • Oral: Insert the thermometer into your child’s mouth to read his/her temperature. This is good for a child over 4 or 5 months. Your child has a fever if his/her temperature is above 100.4o
  • Ear: Use an ear thermometer if your child is 6 months or older. This may give you a rough estimate and, in addition, you can use a rectal thermometer to get an accurate reading.
  • Armpit: Putting a thermometer in your child’s armpit may help detect his/her temperature, and he/she has a fever if it is above 100.4o

              How to manage your child’s fever

If your child’s body temperature is above 102o F but below 105o F, there are a few things you can do at home to help bring his/her body temperature down. Make sure you have received prior instructions from your doctor about how to successfully do them.

You may:

  • Bathe or sponge the child with lukewarm water, but do not use alcohol, ice baths or cold water.
  • Give aspirin to a child that is over 18 years; but do not give it to those who are under the age of 18, because this could cause Reye syndrome, a brain disease.
  • Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen to your child based on the package recommendations for weight and age.
  • Dress your child in light clothing and use light blanket to cover him/her.
  • Provide a lot of fluid for your child to avoid dehydration.
  • Let your child have enough rest.
  • Allow your child to stay home instead of going to school or outdoors.

When to call the doctor

Give your doctor a call when your child

  • Is limp or unresponsive
  • Has a seizure
  • Is vomiting and has a stiff neck or a headache
  • Is having difficulty breathing
  • Has blue skin or lips
  • Refuses to drink or too ill to eat
  • Has a chronic medical problem like cancer, sickle cell disease, heart disease, and so on
  • Has a sign of dehydration
  • Has a long-lasting diarrhea
  • Is crying endlessly
  • Is leaning forward and drooling
  • Is having extreme itching or fussiness