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Fever

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What is a fever?

A fever is a body temperature higher than 100.4° F (38° C). It is a symptom, not a disease. Fever can help the body fight an infection. The temperature can be measured under the arm, in the mouth, or in the rectum, and it varies slightly in each place. If you call your clinic about your child's fever, say which method you used.

How should I care for my child?

Keep your child comfortable. Lightweight clothes will help your child cool down. If your child gets cold, use a light blanket.

Give extra fluids to prevent dehydration (getting "dried out").

Sponging and bathing are not recommended as they may cause shivering. Shivering actually increases the temperature. Do not sponge with rubbing alcohol: it may be absorbed through the skin, causing bad side effects.

Fever does not always need to be treated. The main reason to give medicine for a fever is to help your child feel better. If your doctor or nurse practitioner advises a fever-reducing medicine, ask which one to use.

Do not give aspirin or aspirin-containing products to children or teens because of the risk of Reye's syndrome (a nervous system illness).

Take your child's temperature before you give any more fever medicine. This will help you know if the temperature is rising, and avoid giving medicine that is not needed.

When should I call the clinic?

Call if your child:

  • has a temperature of 100.4° F or higher and is younger than 3 months
  • has a fever that lasts for more than 48 hours and is older than 3 months
  • has a fever that won't come down with medicine, or that keeps rising
  • is crying constantly or very fussy and cannot be comforted
  • is listless, has little energy
  • is sleeping more and is hard to wake up
  • has neck pain or stiffness
  • refuses to drink
  • has less urine than usual

Call 911 if your child:

  • has trouble breathing
  • has purple spots on skin or bruising

Questions?

This sheet is not specific to your child, but provides general information. If you have any questions, please call your clinic.

Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota
Patient/Family Education
2525 Chicago Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55404

Lat Reviewed 7/2015 © Copyright

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Family Resource Center library, or visit www.childrensmn.org/educationmaterials.

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