Fever, Child

Fever is a higher than normal body temperature. A normal temperature is usually 98.6° Fahrenheit (F) or 37° Celsius (C). Most temperatures are considered normal until a temperature is greater than 99.5° F or 37.5° C orally (by mouth) or 100.4° F or 38° C rectally (by rectum). Your child's body temperature changes during the day, but when you have a fever these temperature changes are usually greatest in the morning and early evening. Fever is a symptom, not a disease. A fever may mean that there is something else going on in the body. Fever helps the body fight infections. It makes the body's defense systems work better. Fever can be caused by many conditions. The most common cause for fever is viral or bacterial infections, with viral infection being the most common.

SYMPTOMS

The signs and symptoms of a fever depend on the cause. At first, a fever can cause a chill. When the brain raises the body's "thermostat," the body responds by shivering. This raises the body's temperature. Shivering produces heat. When the temperature goes up, the child often feels warm. When the fever goes away, the child may start to sweat.

PREVENTION

  • Generally, nothing can be done to prevent fever.

  • Avoid putting your child in the heat for too long. Give more fluids than usual when your child has a fever. Fever causes the body to lose more water.

DIAGNOSIS

Your child's temperature can be taken many ways, but the best way is to take the temperature in the rectum or by mouth (only if the patient can cooperate with holding the thermometer under the tongue with a closed mouth).

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Mild or moderate fevers generally have no long-term effects and often do not require treatment.

  • Only give your child over-the-counter or prescription medicines for pain, discomfort, or fever as directed by your caregiver.

  • Do not use aspirin. There is an association with Reye's syndrome.

  • If an infection is present and medications have been prescribed, give them as directed. Finish the full course of medications until they are gone.

  • Do not over-bundle children in blankets or heavy clothes.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • Your child has an oral temperature above 102° F (38.9° C), not controlled by medicine.

  • Your baby is older than 3 months with a rectal temperature of 102° F (38.9° C) or higher.

  • Your baby is 3 months old or younger with a rectal temperature of 100.4° F (38° C) or higher.

  • Your child becomes fussy (irritable) or floppy.

  • Your child develops a rash, a stiff neck, or severe headache.

  • Your child develops severe abdominal pain, persistent or severe vomiting or diarrhea, or signs of dehydration.

  • Your child develops a severe or productive cough, or shortness of breath.

DOSAGE CHART, CHILDREN'S ACETAMINOPHEN

CAUTION: Check the label on your bottle for the amount and strength (concentration) of acetaminophen. U.S. drug companies have changed the concentration of infant acetaminophen. The new concentration has different dosing directions. You may still find both concentrations in stores or in your home.

Repeat dosage every 4 hours as needed or as recommended by your child's caregiver. Do not give more than 5 doses in 24 hours.

Weight: 6 to 23 lb (2.7 to 10.4 kg)

  • Ask your child's caregiver.

Weight: 24 to 35 lb (10.8 to 15.8 kg)

  • Infant Drops (80 mg per 0.8 mL dropper): 2 droppers (2 x 0.8 mL = 1.6 mL).

  • Children's Liquid or Elixir* (160 mg per 5 mL): 1 teaspoon (5 mL).

  • Children's Chewable or Meltaway Tablets (80 mg tablets): 2 tablets.

  • Junior Strength Chewable or Meltaway Tablets (160 mg tablets): Not recommended.

Weight: 36 to 47 lb (16.3 to 21.3 kg)

  • Infant Drops (80 mg per 0.8 mL dropper): Not recommended.

  • Children's Liquid or Elixir* (160 mg per 5 mL): 1½ teaspoons (7.5 mL).

  • Children's Chewable or Meltaway Tablets (80 mg tablets): 3 tablets.

  • Junior Strength Chewable or Meltaway Tablets (160 mg tablets): Not recommended.

Weight: 48 to 59 lb (21.8 to 26.8 kg)

  • Infant Drops (80 mg per 0.8 mL dropper): Not recommended.

  • Children's Liquid or Elixir* (160 mg per 5 mL): 2 teaspoons (10 mL).

  • Children's Chewable or Meltaway Tablets (80 mg tablets): 4 tablets.

  • Junior Strength Chewable or Meltaway Tablets (160 mg tablets): 2 tablets.

Weight: 60 to 71 lb (27.2 to 32.2 kg)

  • Infant Drops (80 mg per 0.8 mL dropper): Not recommended.

  • Children's Liquid or Elixir* (160 mg per 5 mL): 2½ teaspoons (12.5 mL).

  • Children's Chewable or Meltaway Tablets (80 mg tablets): 5 tablets.

  • Junior Strength Chewable or Meltaway Tablets (160 mg tablets): 2½ tablets.

Weight: 72 to 95 lb (32.7 to 43.1 kg)

  • Infant Drops (80 mg per 0.8 mL dropper): Not recommended.

  • Children's Liquid or Elixir* (160 mg per 5 mL): 3 teaspoons (15 mL).

  • Children's Chewable or Meltaway Tablets (80 mg tablets): 6 tablets.

  • Junior Strength Chewable or Meltaway Tablets (160 mg tablets): 3 tablets.

Children 12 years and over may use 2 regular strength (325 mg) adult acetaminophen tablets.

*Use oral syringes or supplied medicine cup to measure liquid, not household teaspoons which can differ in size.

Do not give more than one medicine containing acetaminophen at the same time.

Do not use aspirin in children because of association with Reye's syndrome.

DOSAGE CHART, CHILDREN'S IBUPROFEN

Repeat dosage every 6 to 8 hours as needed or as recommended by your child's caregiver. Do not give more than 4 doses in 24 hours.

Weight: 6 to 11 lb (2.7 to 5 kg)

  • Ask your child's caregiver.

Weight: 12 to 17 lb (5.4 to 7.7 kg)

  • Infant Drops (50 mg/1.25 mL): 1.25 mL.

  • Children's Liquid* (100 mg/5 mL): Ask your child's caregiver.

  • Junior Strength Chewable Tablets (100 mg tablets): Not recommended.

  • Junior Strength Caplets (100 mg caplets): Not recommended.

Weight: 18 to 23 lb (8.1 to 10.4 kg)

  • Infant Drops (50 mg/1.25 mL): 1.875 mL.

  • Children's Liquid* (100 mg/5 mL): Ask your child's caregiver.

  • Junior Strength Chewable Tablets (100 mg tablets): Not recommended.

  • Junior Strength Caplets (100 mg caplets): Not recommended.

Weight: 24 to 35 lb (10.8 to 15.8 kg)

  • Infant Drops (50 mg per 1.25 mL syringe): Not recommended.

  • Children's Liquid* (100 mg/5 mL): 1 teaspoon (5 mL).

  • Junior Strength Chewable Tablets (100 mg tablets): 1 tablet.

  • Junior Strength Caplets (100 mg caplets): Not recommended.

Weight: 36 to 47 lb (16.3 to 21.3 kg)

  • Infant Drops (50 mg per 1.25 mL syringe): Not recommended.

  • Children's Liquid* (100 mg/5 mL): 1½ teaspoons (7.5 mL).

  • Junior Strength Chewable Tablets (100 mg tablets): 1½ tablets.

  • Junior Strength Caplets (100 mg caplets): Not recommended.

Weight: 48 to 59 lb (21.8 to 26.8 kg)

  • Infant Drops (50 mg per 1.25 mL syringe): Not recommended.

  • Children's Liquid* (100 mg/5 mL): 2 teaspoons (10 mL).

  • Junior Strength Chewable Tablets (100 mg tablets): 2 tablets.

  • Junior Strength Caplets (100 mg caplets): 2 caplets.

Weight: 60 to 71 lb (27.2 to 32.2 kg)

  • Infant Drops (50 mg per 1.25 mL syringe): Not recommended.

  • Children's Liquid* (100 mg/5 mL): 2½ teaspoons (12.5 mL).

  • Junior Strength Chewable Tablets (100 mg tablets): 2½ tablets.

  • Junior Strength Caplets (100 mg caplets): 2½ caplets.

Weight: 72 to 95 lb (32.7 to 43.1 kg)

  • Infant Drops (50 mg per 1.25 mL syringe): Not recommended.

  • Children's Liquid* (100 mg/5 mL): 3 teaspoons (15 mL).

  • Junior Strength Chewable Tablets (100 mg tablets): 3 tablets.

  • Junior Strength Caplets (100 mg caplets): 3 caplets.

Children over 95 lb (43.1 kg) may use 1 regular strength (200 mg) adult ibuprofen tablet or caplet every 4 to 6 hours.

*Use oral syringes or supplied medicine cup to measure liquid, not household teaspoons which can differ in size.

Do not use aspirin in children because of association with Reye's syndrome.