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Fever in Children
When the body temperature rises above normal, a fever occurs. Fevers fight off infection in the body. Most fevers are not harmful, but can last 2 to 3 days. Children get fevers more often than adults. Sometimes children can get a fever following an immunization, but this is usually not a cause for worry.
Thermometers measure fevers. A thermometer can be purchased anywhere there is a pharmacy. The body’s temperature is different depending on when and how you measure it. Normal body temperature is 98.6° Fahrenheit (37.0° Celsius) when taken by mouth. A fever is present if
The rectal (butt opening) temperature is over 100.4° Fahrenheit (38.0° Celsius)
The oral (by mouth) temperature is over 99.5° Fahrenheit (37.5° Celsius)
The armpit temperature is over 99.0° Fahrenheit (37.2° Celsius)
The ear temperature is over 100.4° Fahrenheit (38.0° Celsius)
There are different things that can be done to take care of a fever. Since fevers work in the body to fight off infection, medicine should only be given if needed. For example, if the oral temperature is over 102° Fahrenheit (39° Celsius), Acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or Ibuprofen (Advil®) may be given. Medicine bottles should be read carefully. It is important to know how much of the medicine should be given and how often. If a child is under the age of two years, a doctor should be contacted regarding the proper dosage. Aspirin is dangerous for children. Never give a child aspirin.
When a child has a fever, he or she needs to stay well hydrated. The child should drink a lot of healthy liquids like water, milk or 100% juices. Also, light clothing should be worn in order to keep the body temperature down. If the fever is still over 104.0° Fahrenheit (40.0° Celsius) 30 minutes after medicine is given, the child should be given a sponge bath. A sponge bath involves sponging off a child in a bathtub with a few inches of lukewarm water. Neither cold water nor ice should be used.
Finally, it is important to know when to call a doctor. A doctor should be contacted right away if a child less than three months of age has a fever; if a child’s fever is over 105° Fahrenheit (40.6° Celsius); or if a child has a seizure. It is also wise to call a doctor if a fever has lasted more than three days or a fever went away and then soon returned.