Fever: Frequently Asked Questions
What is the definition of a fever?
A fever is not an illness unto itself. It is a symptom of sickness and can be a positive sign that the body is fighting infection. However, a fever can make your child uncomfortable, so it's important to know what options you have to help lower your child's fever and make him or her feel better. A rectal temperature above 100.4°F (38°C) is defined as a fever. You should consult your doctor with any questions.
What causes fever?
Fever is associated with a wide variety of causes. Fever in children is most often due to bacterial or viral infections, such as the common cold, the flu, an ear infection, or sore throat. However, fever can also signal a serious infection or disease. You should consult your doctor with any questions.
Can I tell whether or not my child has a fever by feeling his/her forehead?
Feeling the forehead to determine if a child has a fever can be misleading. You should consult your doctor for specific recommendations for measuring your child's temperature.
Do other symptoms accompany a fever?
A fever may be associated with flushing, sweating, shivering, muscle aches, and/or headache. Lack of appetite and a feeling of lethargy can also accompany a fever. An important thing to think about in children is dehydration (loss of fluid), which can become serious if not carefully monitored. You should consult your doctor with any questions.
Why shouldn't I give aspirin when my child has a fever?
Children and teenagers must not use aspirin for chicken pox, flu symptoms, or minor respiratory illnesses before a doctor is consulted about Reye’s syndrome, a rare but serious illness associated with aspirin use for these illnesses.
Should I use an alcohol and water bath to attempt to lower my child's fever?
Never use alcohol to lower temperature. You should consult your doctor with any questions about treating fever.
My child has been very irritable and is not drinking fluids. What can I do?
Call your doctor or your healthcare provider immediately, as your child may become dehydrated.
If my child's fever gets too high, will he/she have a seizure (fit/convulsion)?
Febrile seizures may appear in a child with fever. You should consult your doctor or other health care provider if you need more information.