Burning Up: How to Know When Your Child’s Fever is Serious

Dec 13 • 2014
Burning Up: How to Know When Your Child’s Fever is Serious

Every parent hates when their child isn’t feeling well, but when it comes to a fever, how do you know if it is a serious issue? Fevers are a healthy sign that the body is working to fight off an infection, but for young children, fevers can cause risk of developing a severe infection.

Whether a fever is serious depends on several factors:

  • Age: fevers are more serious in babies that are younger than three months old
  • Behavior: a high fever that causes your baby to stop feeding and playing like normal could be severe
  • Timing: everyone’s temperature rises in the late afternoon and falls after midnight

For children, a temperature higher than 100.4 degrees is considered a fever. It should also be noted that anything lower than 96 degrees is cause for concern. Anytime you notice an abnormal temperature in your newborn, you should call your doctor or visit your local emergency room as soon as possible. You’ll want to call a doctor if his or her temperature hits 102.2 degrees or higher.

Most of the time, fevers will go away within a few days. If your child is older and has had a fever for four days or longer, reach out to your doctor to see what steps should be taken next. Keep an eye out for vomiting, diarrhea, earache, abdominal pain, headaches, stiff neck, sore throat, trouble breathing, swollen joints, or a dark rash and be sure to let your doctor know if you notice any of these symptoms.

Fever-reducing medicines are not necessary for a low-grade fever, but if you would like to administer them to your child, speak with your doctor first to determine the right options. Be sure to follow the instructions when determining dosage for your child. You can also give your baby a lukewarm sponge bath to try to bring the fever down.

It is important to remember that fevers are a sign of a healthy immune system. If your child is experiencing a low-grade fever and has no other symptoms, be sure he or she is resting and drinking plenty of fluids and it should work itself out in a few days.