Fretting over the Fever: Does Your Child Require Medical Attention?
We’ve all been there; it’s the wee hours of the evening, and your little one is up with a high fever (and a bevy of other symptoms). To avoid being labeled a “helicopter” parent, many consider whether the incident is worthy of a call to the doctor or even a trip to the ER – or if it’s just a fleeting temperature change that will pass with the right OTC meds and some rest. Luckily, there are some helpful rules of thumb to calm your mind and help you decipher what to do.
Worrying about your child’s fever is a commonality among parents; in fact, 30 percent of all pediatric acute-care visits are related to fever. It can be natural for a rise in temperature to send mom or dad into a tizzy, but consider what a fever really is – the body’s immune system fighting off an unwanted “bug”. Essentially, it means white cells are coming to the rescue to stave off an infection.
According to Mayo Clinic, if your baby is under 3 months old, you should contact your physician regarding any fever that exceeds 102˚ F (or 38.9 C). If the baby is 6 to 24 months old – and has a temperature higher than 102˚ F, or that lasts longer than a single day, it’s time to reach out for help. Consider the additional symptoms they might have; fever is often a precursor for the flu or H1N1 virus. If a sore throat, body ache, headache, runny nose, chills, fatigue, or diarrhea, accompany your child’s flu – get them over to an urgent care center as soon as possible. In this case, the early bird gets the worm, as many flu medications work optimally when they’re taken within 48 hours of the first symptoms.
Pay attention to the full breadth of your child’s symptoms. If they are experiencing a sore throat, an earache, or painful urination, it could be a sign of something that requires antibiotics. Ear infection, strep throat, and UTI are three common bacterial infections among children, are best treated with the use of these meds – so, don’t delay.
You’d like to breathe easy; but, is your child? Fever often coincides with lung infections, so it’s best to err on the side of caution and seek medical attention when these symptoms present themselves together. Unusual, dark rashes are associated with certain viruses (such as measles and mumps) and should also be inspected by a professional. Not to be confused with a tantrum, irritability or being inconsolable is another telltale sign that medical help is needed.
When heeding the advice of your physician, it’s important to collect all the necessary facts. According to Parents.com, a rectal temperature reading is the most accurate method, although an oral reading under the tongue also works well. Once you’ve spoken with your doctor and are assured there’s no reason to rush in, there are many techniques to reduce fever symptoms at home. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) are reliable for reducing a child’s fever. Giving your child a lukewarm bath can also be beneficial for getting that number down. While it may seem logical to make the water colder, this only causes shivering and a greater temperature once they return to room temperature again.
One of the best resources for parents today are convenient pediatric urgent care centers. Tots ‘N’ Teens Pediatric Urgent Care in San Antonio, TX is one center helping parents sidestep the overcrowded ER when situations permit. In addition to being more cost-effective, they will save you precious time – so, you and your little one can get back to life. Plus, Tots ‘N’ Teens employs board-certified Pediatricians who are highly specialized at diagnosing a vast array of illnesses in children. Check-in online, or call 210-267-5411 for more information.