There’s something in the air and no, it’s not holiday magic – it’s RSV, influenza, and a bunch of nasty colds. If your child comes down with a fever, it’s likely from a viral infection and not serious. Although fevers are harmless and often helpful, they keep many parents up at night, watching and worrying. If you’re ever in doubt about what to do, or your child’s symptoms have you concerned, please call us for 24/7 Nurse Advice. Remember, if you’re up and concerned, so are we. We’re happy to be there for you, so you can get the answers you need and hopefully some Zzzs too.
What is a Fever?
A fever is a body temperature that’s higher than normal (100.4°F or higher). Fevers with most viral illnesses last for 2 or 3 days and help your body fight the infection. Some viruses, such as influenza, can cause fevers for 5 to 6 days. For most kids and adults, fevers are uncomfortable, but not cause for concern.
For older babies and kids, the way they act is a more important measurement of how sick they are (rather than just the thermometer reading). Everyone gets a little grumpy when they have a fever. Appetites may also be decreased. This is normal and should be expected.
Managing Your Child’s Fever
Not every fever needs to be treated. If your child is still interested in playing and drinking well, no medication is needed. Instead, make your child more comfortable by dressing them lightly, offering extra fluids (popsicles are usually welcome relief), and giving them lukewarm baths.
Give medicine only when a fever causes your child discomfort. Fever-reducing medicines are acetaminophen (Tylenol or a store brand) and ibuprofen for kids 6 months and older (Advil, Motrin, or a store brand). Do not treat fevers with medication in infants younger than 3 months of age, unless instructed by your pediatrician.
Children’s Tylenol, Advil, and Motrin Shortage
In recent weeks, parents and other caregivers have had a tough time finding children’s Tylenol, Advil, and Motrin for their sick children. With such high demand for these over-the-counter products, stores can’t restock their shelves fast enough. Remember, generic medications contain the same drug as name brands. Look for acetaminophen (the drug name for Tylenol) or ibuprofen (for Motrin and Advil).
Do not give aspirin to children of any age. It can lead to Reye’s Syndrome, a condition that causes swelling in the liver and brain.
Under the guidance of your pediatrician, adult medications may be given to children for fever relief. Refer to the charts below to determine the correct dosage based on the child’s weight. Tablets can be crushed and added to food like applesauce, pudding, or chocolate syrup for easier swallowing.
Give 1 dose every 4-6 hours as needed.
Acetaminophen should not be given to infants younger than 2 months old.
|Child’s Weight (Pounds)||Number of Regular Strength (325mg) Acetaminophen Tablets Per Dose||Maximum Doses Per Day|
|12-17 lbs.||1/4 (one quarter)||5|
|18-23 lbs.||1/3 (one third)||5|
|24-35 lbs.||1/2 (one half)||5|
|36-47 lbs.||3/4 (three quarters)||5|
Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin)
Give 1 dose every 6-8 hours as needed.
Ibuprofen should not be given to infants younger than 6 months old.
|Child’s Weight (Pounds)||Number of Regular Strength (200mg) Ibuprofen Tablets Per Dose||Maximum Doses Per Day|
|12-23 lbs.||1/4 (one quarter)||4|
|24-35 lbs.||1/2 (one half)||4|
|36-47 lbs.||3/4 (three quarters)||4|
|Age 12+ years||1-2 every 4-6 hours as needed||Daily maximum 1,200mg|
When Should I Call the Doctor?
Call your pediatrician right away if your child:
- Is younger than 3 months of age and has a temperature of 100.4˚F (38˚C) or higher
- Is older than 3 months of age and has a temperature:
- 104˚F (40˚C) or higher and does not come down with medication
- Above 102˚F (38.9˚C) for more than 4 days
- Is any age with a fever and:
- Looks very sick, is very fussy, or very sleepy
- Is not eating or drinking and shows signs of dehydration – dry or sticky mouth, sunken eyes, dark urine, dry diapers, or not urinating
- Has a stiff neck, bad headache, very sore throat, painful stomachache, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Has an unusual rash
- Has been in a very hot place, such as an overheated car
- Has immune system problems that make them more likely to get sick, such as sickle cell disease or cancer, or takes medication that weakens the immune system
Call 911 or go to the emergency room if your child has trouble breathing, has a seizure, or is hard to wake up.
We hope the holidays are good to you and your loved ones – that means no fevers, sniffles, or coughing for anyone! Remember, we’re here 24/7 if you need us. Take care and stay healthy!