When Should You Worry If Your Child Has Fever?

Fever is quite a common occurrence in children. Fever normally arises as a result of a viral infection and it is extremely rare that fever is the cause of something serious. It is therefore very important for parents to have knowledge about when to consult the physician or take the child to emergency room in case of fevers. There are many questions that go across a parents’ mind when their child has fever about whether to take the child to the doctor or deal with it with some home remedies [1].

In fact, it is the parents who have firsthand knowledge of whether the fever their child has is due to some underlying and potentially serious illness or not. This is because they have the firsthand knowledge of the overall behavior of the child during the fever. They are the first ones to witness if their child looks lethargic and not interested in the surroundings. The eating habits of the child also can tell the parents about how the child is feeling. All these factors help the physicians to come to a conclusion whether fever that the child has is worrisome [2].

In fact fever is not a disease condition but is a symptom of some other underlying condition. Majority of fevers in children are due to infections and fever is the body’s natural way to fight it off [2].

In some cases fevers are caused due to the child, especially newborns or infants, being subjected to hot weather conditions and are overdressed since infants are not able to regulate their body temperature the way older children do. Fever is a common occurrence post immunization of a child. Teething is yet another cause for a child having fevers [2].

The above mentioned causes are self-limiting and resolve in a few days. However, sometimes fevers are caused due to a potentially serious medical condition and become a cause of worry for parents. These causes are what have been explained in the article below [2].

When Should You Worry If Your Child Has Fever?

When Should You Worry If Your Child Has Fever?

First and foremost always consult with a physician if you are not sure about the symptoms the child is displaying as a physician will be in a better position to diagnose and treat the child. Usually, parents prefer to call up the physician to discuss the symptoms; however, in most cases physicians prefer to examine the child before coming to a conclusion [1].

There is nothing to worry about healthy children who have temperature of 102 degrees Fahrenheit or lower and remains constant. These children only need medications when they seem to be uncomfortable or fussy due to fever. However, if an infant under 3 months of age develops fever greater than or equal to 100 degrees Fahrenheit rectally then it is generally a sign of a potentially serious underlying problem [2].

In such cases, the child should be taken to the nearest emergency room for evaluation and treatment. If children between 3 months to 3 years of age develop fever which is greater than or equal to 102 degrees Fahrenheit then it needs to be evaluated by a physician for appropriate treatment [2].

For fever that develops in children above the age of 4, it is often the physical symptoms that should be taken into account. If the child acts fussy, is in pain, or is lethargic and shows no interest in play then it is better to take the child to the physician for an evaluation [2].

Diet is something which should not be considered as a worrying symptom because lack of appetite is extremely common in fever. The following are the signs which suggest that a child should be taken to a healthcare provider in cases of fever [2]: A fever is said to be worrisome in children if:

  • Rectal Temperature of greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit for children younger than 3 months of age
  • Child above 1 year of age having body temperature of 102-104 degrees Fahrenheit persistently

Child above the age of 4 years who develops fever of 102-104 degrees Fahrenheit and has the following symptoms:

  • Does not drink enough fluids and looks dehydrated
  • Repeated episodes of vomiting and diarrhea
  • Pain in the throat or ears
  • Fever does not go down even after 3 days
  • Has a significant increase in body temperature especially at night
  • Has a known diagnosis of conditions like sickle cell disease or lupus
  • Development of rash
  • Painful urination
  • Seizures: This is a medical emergency and the child should be immediately taken to the emergency room
  • If the lips or nails become discolored or have a bluish tinge to them then also it is a medical emergency and the child should be taken to the emergency room
  • The child has problems with breathing

In conclusion, not all fevers in a child are worrisome. In fact, normally a viral infection is the root cause of it. However, in some instances a child can develop fever due to an underlying potentially serious medical condition. In such cases, the child will display certain specific symptoms mentioned above which every parent should aware of [1, 2].

This is especially important for people who have children less than 3-4 months of age. If the child displays any of the symptoms mentioned above along with fever then it is best to consult a physician immediately. This will help the physician in diagnosing the condition early and start treatment for it [1, 2].