Common Causes of Fever in a Child

Kids get fevers from time to time and it usually isn’t anything to worry about. A fever runs its course and the little one will be feeling better before you know it. In fact, fevers are known to help the immune system fight off infection.

It is important, however, for parents to understand that fevers can occur for different reasons. Knowing how to care for them at home and when to reach out to the pediatrician are crucial. Here is everything you need to know.

What is a Fever?

Simply put, a fever is a high temperature. Most pediatricians agree that a fever is when the body temperature is at least 100.4°F. Keep in mind that the number can vary based on how the temperature is obtained, whether the mouth, forehead, ear, armpit, or rectum.

Fevers can come with symptoms, such as:

  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of appetite
  • Decreased or increased thirst
  • Crying or fussy
  • Hot and/or flushed skin
  • Increased heart rate

Or, fevers may come on with no other signs at all.

Common Conditions that Cause Fevers

There are many different causes for fevers. Often they come from infections, such as bacterial or viral infections —

  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Ear infections
  • Flu
  • Tonsillitis
  • Urinary tract infections

It is not uncommon for kids to get fevers following vaccinations or even dressing too warmly. Both of these things can temporarily raise the body temperature.

How to Treat a Fever at Home

Sometimes fevers can skirt by without much attention at all. Other times, not so much. If your child is uncomfortable due to their fever and the symptoms it is causing or if you are struggling to get your child to drink due to the high temperature, then it needs to be addressed.

Over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen (like Tylenol brand) or ibuprofen (like Advil or Motrin brand) can help to lower body temperature. Of course, you will want to make sure you purchase the right one for your child’s size and weight, following the directions carefully.

If you aren’t sure about whether or not you should give your child these medications — or how much — contact your pediatrician. Note that these medications are not usually recommended for those younger than 2 years old.

A few other steps you can take include:

  • Dressing your child in light clothing. Do not bundle them up in blankets and heavy clothing.
  • Have your child get as much rest as possible, staying home from school or daycare.
  • Ensure they are drinking lots of fluids. Pedialyte is a great option – anything with caffeine is not.
  • Don’t force eating.

Monitor how your child is feeling and their temperature. They are sure to be feeling better soon.

When Is a Fever Serious?

Occasionally, fevers can be serious — especially when they climb too high or last for too long. Here is a general guideline of when you should call the pediatrician:

  • If your child is under 3 months of age and has a temperature of at least 100.4°F
  • If your child is over 3 months of age and has a temperature over 102.2°F
  • If your child has any underlying health conditions and develops a fever of any degree

For most kids, temperatures of this degree will work themselves out. It is always a good idea to talk to your pediatrician and get guidelines for your child before a fever happens. That way, in the moment, you don’t find yourself questioning whether or not you should — you just do it.

Advocare Haddon Pediatric Group is a highly experienced team of pediatricians serving patients from birth through college. They have been an established leader in pediatrics for decades in the Haddon Heights and Mullica Hill areas of New Jersey.