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Fever In Children, Ambulatory Care

A fever

is an increase in your child's body temperature. Fever is commonly caused by a viral infection. Your child's body uses a fever to help fight the virus. Vaccines may also cause a fever. The cause of your child's fever may not be known.

Other symptoms include the following:

  • Chills, sweating, or shivers
  • More tired or fussy than usual
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Not hungry or thirsty

Seek immediate care for the following symptoms:

  • Temperature reaches 105°F (40.6°C)
  • Dry mouth, cracked lips, or crying without tears
  • Dry diaper for at least 8 hours
  • Less alert, less active, or child acting differently than he usually does
  • Seizure or abnormal movements of the face, arms, or legs
  • Drooling and not able to swallow
  • Stiffness of the neck, confusion, or will not wake up

Temperature for a fever in children:

  • A rectal, ear, or forehead temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher
  • An oral or pacifier temperature of 100°F (37.8°C) or higher
  • An armpit temperature of 99°F (37.2°C) or higher

The best way to take your child's temperature

depends on his age:

  • If your baby is 3 months or younger , take the temperature in his armpit. If the temperature is higher than 99°F (37.2°C), take a rectal temperature. Call your baby's healthcare provider if the rectal temperature also shows your baby has a fever.
  • If your child is 3 months to 5 years , take a rectal or electronic pacifier temperature, depending on his age. After age 6 months, you can also take an ear, armpit, or forehead temperature.
  • If your child is 5 years or older , take an oral, ear, or forehead temperature.

Treatment for a fever

may include medicine to decrease your child's fever. Ask for more information about the medicines your child is given and how to use them safely.

Manage your child's fever:

  • Use a cool compress or give your child a bath in cool or lukewarm water. Check your child's temperature about 30 minutes after the bath.
  • Give your child liquids as directed. Ask how much liquid to give your child each day and which liquids are best. Liquids will help prevent dehydration. Juice, water, or broth are good liquids to give your child. Ask if you should give your child oral rehydration solution (ORS) to drink. An ORS has the right amounts of water, salts, and sugar your child needs to replace body fluids. Continue to feed your child breast milk or formula. You may need to give him smaller amounts more often.
  • Dress your child in lightweight clothes. Cover him with a lightweight blanket or sheet. Change your child's clothes, blanket, or sheets if they get wet.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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