Fevers in children: When to worry, when to relax.

Dr. Tracy McComb is a physician at Covenant MedExpress urgent care. With cold and flu season underway, she wants to ensure parents and caregivers know about fevers in children, as well as remedies to manage them and signs to see a doctor. That's why Dr. McComb sat down with WNEM TV to share her knowledge in a Medical Moment segment.

What is a fever?

A fever is a sort of tool your body uses for self-treatment. Humans have internal "thermostats" that regulate our temperature to around 98.6°F, plus or minus one degree. When a person's body detects an illness or infection, his or her brain responds by raising their body's temperature. This results in a fever.

What ages are most susceptible to fevers?

Dr. McComb explains that fevers aren't always cause for immediate concern. Fevers in children under a certain age, though, should be taken more seriously. If your baby is under 6-8 weeks of age and gets a fever (especially one over 100°F), you should take him or her to the ER immediately. At this age, your child hasn't built up a strong immune system.

Older children can handle higher fevers fairly well. Dr. McComb says people "are really scared of fevers and don't really need to be." A doctor's main concern with fever is what's causing it or if there's an underlying issue that brought it on.

What are the dos and don'ts for fever management?

Dr. McComb suggests a few safe, at-home remedies parents can try when their child comes down with a fever. She also warns of treatments parents should avoid.

If your child has a fever, you SHOULD:

  • Push fluids
  • Ensure your child gets plenty of rest
  • Give your child Tylenol or ibuprofen ONLY if your child is uncomfortable and the fever is low grade

If your child has a fever, you SHOULD NOT:

  • Give him or her aspirin
  • Bundle your child up

When should I take my child to the ER?

For lower grade fevers, Dr. McComb reports it's often okay to wait at home and treat the symptoms there. If your child is complaining about other symptoms like ear pain, throat pain or trouble breathing, however, you should see a doctor more quickly and contact your child's pediatrician.

If your child has a fever over 103°F or is very ill, you should call your pediatrician and take them to a doctor immediately.

For high fever and other illness when your pediatrician isn't available, Covenant MedExpress is available to provide extraordinary care close to home. Covenant MedExpress lets you check in online and reserve your spot for an urgent care visit. You can avoid the wait and get the added confidence that comes with being affiliated with Covenant HealthCare.

Find a Covenant MedExpress location near you.

Posted Date: 1/17/2019


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