What to Do If Your Child Has a High Fever
If your child is struggling with a fever, it’s important to remember that what they’re experiencing is a very normal response to illness. When your child is exposed to a germ, their immune system initiates a complex immune response to fight it off, and that response shows up as a fever.
What is a high fever for a child?
Most people would agree that a ‘normal’ body temperature is 98.6 °F. However, what’s important to understand is that there is a range of normal temperatures both above and below this number, and that a 'normal' temperature is highly dependent on how the temperature is taken.
Rectal temperatures are generally the most accurate, but an oral or armpit (axillary) temperature can be as low as 96 °F and still be considered normal!
The definition of a fever is a temperature of 100.4 °F or higher in infants and 101 °F or higher in older children and adults. At its highest, a fever can push a child’s temperature to 104 °F or even 105 °F.
How to tell if your child has a fever
- Feel — An older study from 1996 actually demonstrated that a caregivers sense of whether their child had a fever was startlingly accurate
- Take a temperature — Generally rectal temperatures are most accurate but may not be practical in older children. A good quality armpit (axillary) or oral temperature is just as helpful. We don’t recommend temperature strips, ear thermometers, or temporal artery thermometers as accuracy can be an issue unless significant money is spent on fancy equipment!
- Don’t get hung up on adding or subtracting degrees. The best policy is to report the temperature as it’s read on the device. Also, manufacturers will include instructions on how to maximize the accuracy of the device
Lowering your child’s fever without medication
Tepid water sponge bathing
Dress your child in light clothing
Use light blankets
Treating a fever with medication
Acetaminophen Dosing by Weight*
(*Do not give to infants under 2 months of age without checking with your child's health care provider first)
|Weight in lbs.||Desired Dose||160 mg/5 ml||160 mg Jr. Strength Chewable Tabs & Meltaways||325g Regular Strength Adult Tabs||500 mg Extra Strength Adult Tabs|
|6 to 11||40 mg||1.25 ml = 1/4 teaspoon||—||—||—|
|12 to 17||80 mg||2.5 ml = 1/2 teaspoon||—||—||—|
|18 to 23||120 mg||3.75 ml = 3/4 teaspoon||—||—||—|
|24 to 35||160 mg||5 ml = 1 teaspoon||1 Jr. Strength Tab or Meltaway||—||—|
|36 to 47||240 mg||7.5 ml = 1 1/2 teaspoon||1 1/2 Jr. Strength Tabs or Meltaways||—||—|
|48 to 59||320 mg||10 ml = 2 teaspoons||2 Jr. Strength Tabs or Meltaways||—||—|
|60 to 71||400 mg||12.5 ml = 2 1/2 teaspoons||2 1/2 Jr. Strength Tabs or Meltaways||1 tab||—|
|72 to 95||490 mg||15 ml = 3 teaspoons||3 Jr. Strength Tabs or Meltaways||1 1/2 tabs||—|
|96+||650 mg||20 ml = 4 teaspoons||4 Jr. Strength Tabs or Meltaways||2 tabs||1 tab|
Ibuprofen Dosing by Weight (6 months and older*)
(*Children under 6 months cannot have ibuprofen)
|Desired Dose||50 mg/1.25 ml||100 mg/5 ml||100 mg Junior Strength Motrin Chewables||200 mg Regular Strength Adult Tabs|
|50 mg||1.25 ml||2.5 ml = 1/2 teaspoon||—||—|
|80 mg||1.875 ml||4 ml = 3/4 teaspoon||—||—|
|100 mg||2.5 ml||5 ml = 1 teaspoon||1 chewable tab,20 ml = 4 teaspoons||—|
|160 mg||4 ml||8 ml = 1 1/2 teaspoon||1 1/2 chewable tab||—|
|200 mg||—||10 ml = 2 teaspoons||2 chewable tabs||1 tab|
|250 mg||—||12.5 ml = 2 1/2 teaspoons||2 1/2 chewable tabs||1 tab|
|300 mg||—||15 ml = 3 teaspoons||3 chewable tabs||1 tab|
|400 mg||—||20 ml = 4 teaspoons||4 chewable tabs||2 tabs|
When to come to Pacific Crest
Neither the height or length of fever are reliable predictors of serious illness. Scary stuff like meningitis may present with fevers that aren’t all that high, and viral illnesses which we often think of as being not all that serious can cause fevers as high as 104 or 105 °F! The short answer is that generally, we recommend you seek care:
- Any time you’re worried
- Fever > 3 days
- Signs of true lethargy - not just sleepy but having a very hard time waking up
Find us at: 6924 NE Sandy Blvd. Portland, OR 97213