When to See a Doctor About Your Child’s Fever

Feb 10, 2023
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Seeing your child feel unwell can be heart-wrenching, but when their temperature climbs, it can go from concerning to frightening. New parents, especially, may be alarmed by a fever, but even seasoned pros worry. Here’s when you should see a doctor.

No parent wants to see their child suffer. When your normally busy, active child is sick, it’s reasonable to be worried. 

The highly trained professionals at Minit Medical Urgent Care and Physical Therapy are here to help. When your child needs medical care, we have providers at locations in Kihei, Kahului, and Lahaina, Hawaii, with the skills and training to offer information to you and care to your child. 

In this post, we discuss the signs that your child’s fever may require medical care. 

Defining a fever

Not all fevers are cause for alarm. When your body detects a problem like an infection or a virus, one of your immune system’s first lines of defense is to raise your body temperature. Children generally get fevers more often than adults, and their temperature may rise higher than is usual for adults. Children may also have relatively high fevers without much discomfort.

Many people may remember hearing that a normal human body temperature is 98.6℉. However, “normal” is actually a range, rather than a specific number. A reading between 97℉ and 99℉ is normal. The time of day, level of activity, and other factors can impact your body temperature.

Doctors define a fever as a temperature over 100.4℉. To accurately measure a newborn’s temperature, you should use a temporal artery or rectal thermometer; you can use a digital ear thermometer when your baby is at least 6 months old. You can use an oral thermometer for most children by the time they are 4 years old.

When to keep your child home

If your child has a fever but no other symptoms, it’s a sign that their body is fighting off some sort of illness. You may not need to go to the doctor for a fever — unless your child is less than 3 months old — but you should keep your child home to avoid potentially spreading a contagion. 

Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids. As long as they don’t seem to be uncomfortable and the fever stays at 102℉ or less, you don’t need to give them medicine. Monitor their temperature and watch for any other symptoms. 

If you notice that your child seems tired, fussy, or lethargic, or if they tell you that they don’t feel well or that they don’t want to eat or drink, you can give them an over-the-counter medication to lower their temperature. Avoid aspirin unless your doctor tells you to use it. Instead, give your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen according to the package instructions. 

Cool compresses, adjusting your thermostat, and adding or removing blankets as needed are other ways you may help keep your child comfortable. 

When to see a doctor

If your baby is 3 months old or younger and their temperature goes over 100.4℉, come in to one of our urgent care clinics right away. Other indication your child needs to see a doctor include a fever:

  • of more than 102.2℉ in a child between 3 months and 3 years old that lasts more than 24 hours in a child under age 2 or more than 72 hours for children over age 2
  • higher than 104℉ in a child over the age of 3 years old

You should also call or bring your child to one of our clinics if your child is sick and you’re uncomfortable or worried. 

Seek immediate medical attention if: 

  • Medication doesn’t lower your child’s temperature
  • The fever lasts more than three days
  • Your child has a seizure (call 911 if the seizure lasts 5 minutes or more)
  • Your child develops a fever that lasts more than two days after getting an immunization
  • You notice drastic changes in behavior
  • Your child refuses to drink and has a fever

We’re always happy to answer your questions and provide guidance regarding your specific situation. Call Minit Medical Urgent Care and Physical Therapy at 808-667-6161 to seek advice or schedule an appointment.