Fever: Staying Cool With a High Temp

May 14, 2018

By: Rachael Bilello, DO (MD Kid Care, Jericho, NY)

We all know when it’s coming. The whining starts, eyes glaze over, pink cheeks, cold hands or hot palms…the mush that is your kid with a fever. Baby, toddler, adolescent, or teenager (even adult children for that matter) all feel perfectly crappy with a fever. And as parents, we can easily panic. It’s just awful to see our usually bright, happy kiddo with the energy of a damp sponge.

The good news is that fever is the body’s natural response to illness. It means your child’s immune system is working as it should be! Hooray! Well, let’s not get carried away…But I do have some helpful fever tips to remember the next time your little (or big) one wakes up a little too toasty warm:

– Always keep ibuprofen and/or Tylenol on hand so you don’t find yourself half asleep at the pharmacy at 3 am.

-Know your child’s dose. Especially under 2 years of age, ask your pediatrician at each visit what meds are appropriate and dosages. Text it to yourself!! Over 2 years of age, follow label directions.

-For a kid who loathes liquid meds, ask your pediatrician about other options such as chewables for older ones and…dare I suggest it, rectal suppositories for younger ones.

-Don’t overdress your feverish kid. Likewise, no ice baths or alcohol baths! These are old unproven remedies that can do more harm than good.

-Lukewarm towel on the forehead or back of the neck is ok.

-Ibuprofen and acetaminophen typically bring the temperature down by 1 or 2 degrees only. It’s ok! It’s not necessary to bring your child’s temperature down to 98.6. As long as they’re comfortable, they can hang out at a higher than normal temp.

-Encourage plenty of fluids! Fever can lead to dehydration, so fill up a big water bottle and keep offering it.

-Most kids with fever should be seen by their pediatrician to determine the illness causing the fever.

A child cannot go to school with a fever! They can return to school when they are 24 hours fever-free (without medications!) Sometimes a fever warrants an immediate doctor visit. These include: 

– Any rectal temp >100.4 F in an infant under 3 months of age

-Any fever > 105 F in any age.

-Any child acting listless, very fussy, unusually drowsy.

-Fever when accompanied by a seizure.

-Fever with severe symptoms of a headache, abdominal pain, throat/ear pain, stiff neck, unexplained rash.

-Fever with signs of dehydration such as a sunken soft spot, dry mouth, significantly fewer wet diapers, inability to take in liquids, or severe vomiting and diarrhea.

-Any fever in a child with a weakened immune system.

When in doubt, check it out!

Fear not the next time a fever makes its way into your home! Fever know-how, a couple good books, a cozy spot on the couch, and an ice pop can go a long way to keeping everyone a little more comfortable!