Fever: How to Treat Your Child

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You can tell your child has a fever the second you touch her forehead.  That tell-tale heat that won’t go away let’s you know it’s real. First, know that the fever is a symptom, not a disease.  But what’s going on that’s causing it?

Investigate: What else is going on?  Is your child’s behavior different?  Is there vomiting, diarrhea or rash?  Does he seem to be in pain?  Does anyone else in your home have similar symptoms?

Act: Take your child’s temperature.  Get a rectal reading with babies 3 months and younger. Digital ear thermometers work great with older children. Don’t be concerned if you get a different reading from two different ears, that’s normal.  But doctors recommend that you choose one ear and stick to it.

Now What? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), if your child is less than 2 months old and has a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, your baby should be seen immediately, in an emergency room if it’s after hours. The AAP recommends that you call your pediatrician if your infant is between 3 and 6 months and has a fever of 101 degrees, or if your baby is more than 6 months and has a fever higher than 103 degrees. After age 1, if your feverish kid is eating well, playing, and is in a good mood, don’t run to the phone. The illness can be treated at home.

Treating It Fever reducers are meant to make your child more comfortable, but if he’s playing and the fever is 103 degrees or lower – don’t worry. Once that temperature hits 104 degrees, however, definitely give a fever reducer to stop it from going any higher. Never give any medicine to a baby less than 2 months without first calling your pediatrician, and ibuprofen is approved only for kids 6 months and older. Acetaminophen is recommended mostly for low-grade fevers, and ibuprofen is used for fevers above 102 degrees.  Ibuprofen lasts six hours (rather than four), so may be best to use overnight.

How Long? A fever of 103 degrees or higher rarely lasts more than a day. If it does, call your doctor. Make an appointment if three days have gone by and a fever higher than 100.4 degrees is lingering. Antibiotics may be necessary to help fight any existing infection.

Mom Love When your child doesn’t feel well, it’s time for you to kick into action.  Provide a cool wash cloth folded in quarters. Offer your child plenty of liquids, popsicles and cool jellos.  Provide your child with fresh sheets, comfort and cartoons and spend time with him.  Don’t just leave him alone unless he wants to sleep, but provide affection and companionship.

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