A child's fever can certainly make all parents feel concerned. It’s frightening when a child runs a very high fever or when they appear flushed and miserable. It is important to remember that fever actually serves the child in helping to fight off infections, and a slight fever isn’t always a good reason to head to the doctor. There are many times when a child's fever indicates contacting your family doctor or pediatrician, and these depend upon the age of the child, the height of the fever, and other symptoms which may indicate a problem.
For babies, the recommendation on fever depends upon age in months. An infant under three months old needs medical attention if their rectal temperature is 100.4 F (38 C). For a child over three months of age, you should call the doctor if a fever is 102 F (39.44) or higher. You should also look for the following signs that may accompany fever. If a child is completely listless, very sleepy, or doesn’t respond, contact your doctor immediately. If excessive crying or irritability accompanies a child's fever, then you should also contact the doctor right away, even if the fever is lower than the above stated temperatures. You should also see a doctor immediately if rectal temperature is below 97 F (36.11 C), and the child is less than three months old.
For children under two, you should get in touch with your doctor if the child's fever lasts for more than a day. In children over two, call your doctor if the fever hasn’t ended within two to three days. Older children should also be evaluated by their behavior. For any child over two, if a fever is above 102 F (39.44 C), and the child exhibits behavioral changes, it’s a good idea to get in touch with the pediatrician sooner. Watch for the following behavioral changes:
- Extreme irritability
- Repeated Vomiting
- Severe Headache
- Seems in Pain
- Complains of stomachache
Even when a child's fever is under 102 F, if a child is not keeping down fluids because of vomiting, or is unresponsive or complaining of pain, you should contact your doctor. Your doctor may also give you directions if your child has any special health circumstances. A child prone to ear infections might mean that the child's fever is always an indication to call your doctor, usually during office hours. More severe health conditions may suggest earlier contact with a doctor, even after hours. Follow your doctor’s recommendations on this issue.
Parenting can also be about gut instincts when it comes to kids. You may sometimes “feel” that something is not right, even when a child's fever is lower than the numbers listed above. If you have a sense that something is wrong and are worried about your child, most pediatricians would encourage you to call. Parents may pick up on things that they can’t quite describe, and reassurance that all is well is often worth a doctor’s visit.