A Nurse Practitioners Note on Fever

What is a fever?

  • Medically defined as over 100.4º F or 38º C
  • Usually harmless
  • A sign the child's immune system is working and fighting off an illness
  • Can be caused by many different things. Some common causes of fever in kids: viral illness (like the common cold), flu, ear infection, urinary tract infection
  • Can be environmental

What can I do for my child if they have a fever?

  • Let them rest
  • Provide them comfort and activities that help them feel better: bath or shower, cool washcloth on head
  • Encourage fluids: water, juice, or Pedialyte
  • Can give acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen to help them feel better. Make sure it's the correct dose for your child's age and weight. Ibuprofen is NOT used for infants under 6 months.
  • DO NOT give aspirin to children
When fever indicates to contact a medical provider:
  • Child looks very sick
  • You're concerned about dehydration
  • Your child has a chronic medical condition
  • Child has one or more of the following symptoms with their fever: Stiff neck, rash, bad headache, sore throat, ear pain, lethargic, bad stomachache, repeated vomiting or diarrhea, decreased response to your voice
  • Fever that lasts for more than 24 hours if child is less than 24 months old
  • If you are concerned about your child's symptoms or behavior
  • Child was left in a hot environment like a car
  • Infant 3 months or younger with a fever
  • Fever lasting longer than 3 days
  • Fever over 103ºF or 39.4º C
Questions? I would love to hear from you!

Fever is a big topic and this is just a brief overview. ICAN Pediatrics would love to hear from you!

References: 1. American Academy of Pediatrics. Plain Language Pediatrics: Fever. https://patiented.solutions.aap.org/handout-collection.aspx?categoryid=32035. Updated 2008. Accessed November 5, 2018. 2. American Academy of Pediatrics. Point-of-Care Solutions. Fever and Your Child. https://patiented.solutions.aap.org/handouts.aspx. Updated 2018. Accessed November 5, 2018. 3. Mayo Clinic. Fever. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fever/symptoms-causes/syc-20352759. Updated July 21, 2017. Accessed November 6, 2018.