Fevers- When is high too high? – Seeking Medical Attention

Every parents gut churning question. When do I begin to worry about a fever? Do I let it run it’s course? Or should we seek medical attention?

A fever can be caused by so many things; a virus or even medications can cause them. But what exactly is a fever and why do we get them? And when should you seek help for your child with a fever?

A fever is a temperature that is above 100.4 degrees. As a parent, it is always scary when you feel your child getting warm. But did you know that serve a very important purpose? Fevers are a side effect of your body trying to fight off an infection, either viral or bacterial. Fevers happen in a part of the brain that is called the hypothalamus. Fevers or elevated body temperature can be cause by any of the following:

  • A virus
  • A bacterial infection
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Certain inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • A malignant tumor
  • Some medications, such as antibiotics and drugs used to treat high blood pressure or seizures
  • Some immunizations, such as the diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis (DTaP) or pneumococcal vaccine

As a Parent, what can you do at home if your child develops a fever?

Honestly, most fevers are going to come down on their own. But there are times where it is necessary to bring the fever down so that your child is more comfortable. They don’t always need to be medicated, though. An important “rule” to remember is to treat the child, not the fever. How can you do this:

  • Cool compresses
  • Placing ice in the armpit or groin
  • Lukewarm baths
  • Tylenol for children over 2 months old

At what point during the fever should you seek medical attention for your child?

Once your child is over the age of 3 months, fevers are a bit less of a cause for concern. If your child is under 3 months, fevers should always be checked out in the ER. The immune systems in such young babies are not yet fully formed and this leaves them very vulnerable to infections. Medical attention should also be sought for the following situations:

  • Duration and treatment: The fever lasts longer than five days and is not responding to medications, including Tylenol or Motrin.
  • Return: A fever returns after several days. Your child should be evaluated for potential secondary infections such as ear or sinus infections.
  • Immunizations: Your child was recently immunized and has a fever that is above 102 or lasts longer than 48 hours.
  • Behavior: Your child’s behavior is not normal, you have difficulty rousing them or they’re not consuming enough liquids.
  • Temperature: A fever rises above 103 degrees.

If in doubt, always seek medical attention. Better safe than sorry when it comes to our littles, right?

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