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Dr. Joyce: Fevers

What about Fevers?

What is considered a fever and what should I do if my child gets one? Fevers are very common and are usually a sign of infection or other illness. Most fevers are not a sign that your child needs a visit to the doctor but it might.

A fever is any elevation in temperature above 100.4 taken rectally. Most temperatures do not need to be taken rectally and most thermometers can give a clear answer whether a fever is present even if taken under the tongue or in the ear. Many inexpensive electronic temperature detectors are on the market. Follow the manufacturers recommendations for obtaining an accurate temperature.

What should I do if I there is a fever?

First, age matters.

Very young children (less than 3 months) aren’t as able to signal us when they are seriously ill so any fever in this age group needs evaluation in the clinic.

Older children (3 months to 3 years) should be evaluated in the clinic if the temp is greater than 102 degrees or if there are symptoms of trouble breathing; lips, tongue, or fingertips turning blue; has severe headache; belly pain; new rash; won’t eat or drink enough; or won’t stop crying or being irritable.

Temperatures greater than 104 (103 under the arm) are a strong sign that children need evaluation.

So, next time the temperature is rising, as we might expect this flu season, measure those temperatures, note the fevers and manage them and be alert for reasons your child might need an evaluation at the clinic.

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