My Child Has a Fever

Fever is defined as a body temperature over

  • 100 degrees F or 37.8 degrees C taken orally
  • 100.4 degrees F or 38 degrees C taken rectally
  • 99 degrees F or 37.2 decrees C taken under the arm. Note: Temperature taken under the arm is less than 50% accurate.

Treat the child, not the thermometer Fevers are more frightening than they are harmful. The main reason to treat your child is to make him or her feel better. Should the fever go down following
an anti-fever medication, it does not mean that the child’s illness may not be serious. Likewise it is not necessarily significant if the fever does not go down with treatment

Fever Facts

  • Fever is the body’s normal response to inflammation and may actually aid the body’s defenses to infection.
  • Fever is not a disease, but a symptom that accompanies a variety of illnesses;
  • Fever does not cause brain damage. unless it goes above 108 degrees F
  • Untreated fevers will not keep going higher.
  • Untreated fevers will not cause seizures in 94% of children and it is how fast the fever goes up rather than the height of the fever that triggers febrile convulsions
  • Bringing a fever down quickly can be as dangerous as having it rise too quickly. This is why we no longer recommend alcohol baths (ask your mother if you don’t know what an alcohol bath is.)
  • It is not true that the higher the temperature, the more serious the illness. Some minor viral infections cause very high fevers.
  • Most of the serious consequences associated with fever occur in the first 24 hours and the majority of those in the first 18 hours.
  • Teething does not cause fever
  • Do not let fever be the overriding factor in you deciding how sick you child is.
  • Fever is an indication that your child is sick and he should not be in school until the fever is gone for a full 24 hours. It is common for fevers to go away in the morning, only to return at night.


When to worry and call
the doctor!
When to worry less!
Your febrile child is less than three months Your febrile child is over three months
Your child’s temperature is over 105.8 oF (41oC)? Your child’s temperature is less than 1 05.8 oF (41oC)?
Your febrile child begins to act sicker hour by hour as a continuous process with-out improvement Your child’s temperature comes and goes and is not getting worse without some improvement
Your child with a fever becomes increasing listless (out of it), less responsive, and drowsy or does not make any sense with speech Your febrile child seems otherwise normal if it were not for the fever
Your febrile child’s facial expressions are dull and anxious; they do not look you in the eyes; do not follow what is going on around them and has a vacant stare Your febrile child seems otherwise normal if it were not for the fever
Your febrile child’s skin is ashen, pale or blue; or there are purple spots on the skin The skin is normal except for being flushed when fever is present
There is a fine red rash above and below the nipple The skin is normal except for being flushed when fever is
There is a line on your febrile child that does not disappear (blanch) when pushing lightly on the skin No rash is present
Your febrile child has cried inconsolably for over an hour Your febrile child cries intermittently but can be consoled
Your febrile child’s condition does not improve when the fever goes down Your febrile child seems better when the fever goes down
Your febrile child will not move his/her head up and down and acts like it hurts Your febrile child will move his/her head and can “kiss” their knee
Your febrile child complains constantly for more than two hours of an earache, headache, abdominal pain, inability to swallow (with drooling saliva),burning while trying to urinate Your febrile child’s symptoms seem to come and go and can be controlled with medication
Your febrile child’s breathing is noisy during inspiration (stridor), shallow and rapid, or grunting at the end of expiration. Child’s nostrils move with each breath. Child’s breathing may be rapid when febrile but returns more to normal when fever goes down
Your febrile child is not willing to swallow or take clear liquids after three attempts. Vomiting under these circumstances is particularly worrisome. Your febrile child will drink (although amount is reduced) and there is no consistent vomiting
Your febrile child has a serious chronic medical condition or is under treatment for a disorder that affects the immune system Your child is otherwise healthy and has no other serious or chronic medical condition
Your febrile child looks very ill and you are still worried about his/her condition ¬†You wouldn’t really know your child was sick if you didn’t take a temp.