Jan 27, 2014 Post By: Children's Health

Fever in Children: When to Seek Medical Attention
Reducing fever in children relieves discomfort and allows time to re-evaluate symptoms. Parents of children younger than 3 months should contact the doctor.

Knowing when to seek medical attention when your child has a high fever can be a scary and confusing decision for new and seasoned parents.

Susan Scott, M.D., attending physician in the Emergency Department at Children’s Medical Center, says the first step to treating a child with a high fever is to lower the fever with an antipyretic such as ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) and encourage fluids. The vast majority of infectious diseases that present with high fever are viral and are accompanied by coughing, congestion, vomiting  or diarrhea.  Fever can also accompany an ear infection or strep throat as well as less common infections such as pneumonia. Reducing fever will not help your child get rid of the infection causing fever, but it will relieve the discomfort associated with it and allow for an opportunity to re-evaluate your child’s symptoms.

Time to Visit the Doctor

If your child's temperature lasts longer than two to three days, or your child still feels badly even after the fever is lowered, then Dr. Scott recommends visiting the doctor that knows your child best, their primary physician. Parents of a child younger than 3 months of age should call the health care provider immediately if their child has a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) or higher.

Child Thermometers

Dr. Scott advises that the best way to get an accurate temperature reading for an infant is with a rectal thermometer. For older children, under arm, oral or tympanic  thermometers are easy and accurate.