Everyone has his or her own internal “thermostat” that regulates body temperature, and normal body temperature is around 98 degrees Farenheit plus or minus about one degree (37 degrees Celsius, plus or minus about 0.6 degrees).

When the body detects an infection or other illness, the brain responds by raising the body temperature to help fight the condition. In this respect fever is a positive sign that the body is protecting itself. By itself, fever is not an illness. Rather, it is a sign or symptom of sickness.

However, fever can make your child uncomfortable. It increases the need for fluids and makes heart rate and breathing faster. Fever itself is not dangerous. Even a high fever up to 104 or 105 will not cause brain damage or other permanent injury.

Fever can be treated with acetaminophen and/or ibuprofen in order to make the child more comfortable and allow them to drink in order to stay well hydrated. Once the medicine wears off the fever will return. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen treat the symptom of fever, they do not treat the cause of the fever. Your child’s normal temperature will vary with age, activity, and time of day. Infants tend to have higher temperatures than older children, and everyone’s temperature is highest between late afternoon and early evening and lowest between midnight and early morning.

The height of a child’s fever is not always the best indicator of whether the child needs to be treated and/or evaluated. Instead, it is important to note how a child behaves and appears. If a child is over one year of age, is eating and sleeping well, and has playful moments, there is usually no need to call the doctor immediately. Fever is usually accompanied by other symptoms these are what may need to be evaluated by your child’s doctor.

These include: severe sore throat, a severe earache, a cough, an unexplained rash, or repeated vomiting or diarrhea. Also, if your child is very fussy or sleeping more than usual.

When to call the physician:

 If your child is two months or younger and has a rectal temperature of 100.4 degrees Farenheit (38 degrees Celsius) or higher, call your pediatrician immediately. This is an absolute necessity.

 If your child is between three and six months and has a fever of 101 degrees Farenheit (38.3 degrees Celsius) or greater.

 If your child is older than 6 months and has a temperature of 103 degrees Farenheit (39.4 degrees Celsius).

 A child of any age who has consistently had a temperature of 101 degrees or higher for >/= 5 days.

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