A fever is defined by most doctors as a rectal temperature of 100.4 degrees and higher or an oral temperature of 99.6 degrees or higher.
The body has several ways to maintain normal body temperature. The organs involved in helping with temperature regulation include the brain, skin, muscle, and blood vessels. The body responds to changes in temperature by:
When your child has a fever, the body works the same way to control the temperature, but it has temporarily reset its thermostat at a higher temperature. The temperature increases for a number of reasons:
The following conditions can cause a fever:
A fever actually helps the body destroy its microbial invader. It also stimulates an inflammatory response, which sends all kinds of substances to the area of infection to protect the area, prevent the spread of the invader, and start the healing process.
Children with fevers may become more uncomfortable as the temperature rises. The following are the most common symptoms of a fever. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. In addition to a rectal body temperature greater than 100.4 (or an oral temperature of 99.6) degrees, symptoms may include:
The symptoms of a fever may resemble other medical conditions. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, if your child is younger than two months of age and has a rectal temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher, you should call your pediatrician immediately. If you are unsure, always consult your child's doctor for a diagnosis.
In children, a fever that is making them uncomfortable (usually above 102 degrees) should be treated. Children between the ages of 6 months and 3 years can develop seizures from fever (called febrile seizures). If your child does have a febrile seizure, there is a chance that the seizure may occur again, but, usually, children outgrow the febrile seizures. A febrile seizure does not mean your child has epilepsy.
If your child is very uncomfortable with a lower fever, treatment may be necessary. Treating your child's fever will not help the body get rid of the infection any quicker, it simply will relieve discomfort associated with fever.
Specific treatment for a fever will be determined by your doctor based on:
Do not give aspirin to a child without first contacting the child's doctor. Aspirin, when given as treatment for children, has been associated with Reye syndrome, a potentially serious or deadly disorder in children. Therefore, pediatricians and other health care providers recommend that aspirin (or any medication that contains aspirin) not be used to treat any viral illnesses in children.
Administer an anti-fever medication, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. DO NOT give your child aspirin, as it has been linked to a serious, potentially fatal disease, called Reye syndrome.
Other ways to reduce a fever:
When a child’s temperature reaches 105 degrees, this is considered a medical emergency and the child needs immediate medical attention, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Call your child's doctor immediately if your child is younger than 2 to 3 months old and any of the followings conditions are present:
Call your child's doctor within 24 hours if your child is 3 months or older and any of the following conditions are present:
Call your child's doctor during office hours if any of the following conditions are present:
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