A fever is a common symptom of illness, but it not necessarily a bad thing. To the contrary, a fever is the body’s natural defense against illness and plays a key role in fighting infections. If your child is older than 6 months, is drinking plenty of fluids, sleeping well, playing normally and is not showing any signs of discomfort there is usually no need to treat with medication. Brain damage is not a concern until 108 F and is caused by environmental influences (when children are left in a hot car) not from infections.
**Please review “Thermometers: Choosing a Device” as the type of thermometer used will change with the child’s age and it is important to be using the correct type for their age/ size.
Best device based on age:
- Babies less than 3 months
- Rectal (not recommended for home use)
- If measuring over 99 degrees double check rectally
- Child between 3 months and 5 years
- 6 months and older as the ear canal is too small in those younger than 6 months
- Child older than 5 years
Your child has a temperature if he or she:
- Has a rectal, ear (tympanic) or forehead (temporal) temperature of 100.4 F or higher.
- Has an oral temperature of 100 F or higher.
- Has an armpit temperature of 99 F or higher.
- Keep in mind that this is the least accurate measurement and may need another device to confirm the results.
What to do with the information?
- 0-3 months:
- Temperatures 100.4 F and over need to be seen by a medical professional ASAP.
- Babies of this age do not have developed immune systems and a fever can become severe quickly. SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION.
- Do NOT give medication for fever before consulting a doctor.
- 3-6 months:
- Temperatures over 101 F need to contact the pediatrician.
- Can treat with Tylenol.
- 6 months and older:
- Temperatures over 102 F that last longer than 48 hours and/or is not relieved with medication (reference “Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen”) need to contact the pediatrician.
- Can treat with Tylenol and/or ibuprofen (Advil/Motrin).