You should take notice of any abnormal temperature, but a temperature measured at more than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit is significant. Fever is helpful in combating illness. It mobilizes the child’s bodily defenses and alerts the parent to follow the suggestions below, and to watch for other symptoms. The thermometer reading is not nearly as important as how the child feels and how he is reacting to the illness. Generally speaking, infants and young children will have higher fevers than older children and adults, but in rare instances a patient of any age may be so sick that the body is unable to respond with the defensive fever. Some children react to fever with listlessness, while others react to fever with excessive excitement and irritability. If your child becomes ill, and has a fever, check for the following:
1. Your child has no persistent localized pain such as earache, sore throat, tender abdomen, sore or stiff neck.
2. Your child takes fluid well, and is passing urine normally.
3. Your child feels better when the fever responds to medication.
The above signs usually indicate a viral illness and require only symptomatic treatment. We feel that it is better for the child’s bodily defenses to fight the symptoms without more specific medical treatment for a day or two, as this is the way in which he builds up his immunity for the future.
If, however, THE SYMPTOMS PERSIST PAST THE SECOND DAY, even without localizing signs, YOUR DOCTOR SHOULD BE CONSULTED.
What You Can Do
- Keep him at rest – in bed, on the sofa, playing quietly in the house, reading on your lap, etc.
- Offer fluids frequently, especially cold, clear liquids, and a soft bland diet if he feels like eating and is not vomiting. (“Clear” liquids are those you can see through, not milk, orange juice, etc.)
- Acetaminophen may be repeated safely in four-hour intervals. Ibuprofen must be given at intervals of six or more hours. Aspirin should never be given unless directed to do so by a doctor.
- If the temperature has not improved 30 minutes after the medication, you may put him in the bathtub with tepid (lukewarm) water as soon as you have given the medications. It is important to expose his entire body surface to the water for 20 to 40 minutes while the fever is gradually reduced.
- If vomiting is present and persistent, the necessary fluids and fever reducing drugs will not be retained; if this occurs rectal suppositories may be necessary. Call your doctor.
- When fever is present, light loose fitting clothing such as a T-shirt and diaper or underpants are appropriate to allow heat to escape – do not put in sleeper pajamas.