Sunday, March 28, 2010

When do I worry about a fever?

If you have a baby who is younger than 6 weeks old and they have a fever over 100.4 you need to call your health care provider. Your baby will probably need blood work, cultures and admission to the hospital. This is because small babies have immature immune systems and are very susceptible to serious infection.

In an older baby and child, you first need to look at your child and see how they are acting. Which child is more likely to be sick:

A toddler who has a temp of 103 who is running around playing and laughing?
A 3 year old with a  temp of 101 who is lethargic, don't want to drink anything and don't want to get off your lap?

Remember, fever is a symptom of an illness, not a disease in itself. A fever is a sign that the body is fighting an infection of some sort. When your child has a fever, look for other symptoms. If they have a fever but they are happy and playing and have no other symptoms, it's probably ok to just watch them for awhile. If they are acting uncomfortable you can give them some medication but they may not need it. If your child has a fever, won't drink, can't stop coughing and is sleepy then it's time to worry about the fever. You should call your child's health care provider and they should probably be seen.

If your child has a fever that persists for more than 2-3 days even if they are acting fine you should still call your health care provider. They should be seen to check for signs of infection that may not be obvious.

Next- how to treat a fever.

Subscribe in a reader


  1. Nice tips about fevers. I always tell my patients not to treat a fever with anything unless it goes about 101. Fever is our own bodies way of fighting infection. Too often we take meds for natural things.