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    When your child has a fever, it can be a cause for concern. Dr. Methuel Gordon, Pediatrician at Palouse Pediatrics, answers common questions about fevers and offers practical tips on managing a fever at home.


    What is a Fever?

    A fever occurs when the body temperature rises above the normal range. The "normal range" can vary by the age of the patient; for children from birth to 3 years old, a fever would be a rectal or oral temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher. Children 4 years old and older would be considered to have a fever with a recurrent oral temperature greater than 99.9°F (37.7°C).


    It's important to recognize that a fever "is not an illness but rather a sign or symptom of illness," Dr. Gordon says. Understanding the signs and symptoms associated with a fever can help parents take appropriate steps to provide comfort and care for their child. Some common signs and symptoms of illness might be:

    • Tiredness or fussiness
    • Glassy eyes, runny nose, cough
    • Loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea
    • Sweating, shivering, chills
    • General weakness, muscle aches
    • Red face, hot skin
    • Higher-than-normal body temperature


    How Do I Treat a Fever at Home?

    When a child has a fever, there are several steps parents can take to help alleviate discomfort and aid in the recovery process. Dr. Gordon suggests the following:

    • Hydration: Ensure your child stays well-hydrated by offering fluids like water, clear broths, or electrolyte solutions.
      • Fevers can reduce appetites, parents shouldn't worry about food intake as much as hydration.
    • Appropriate Dressing: Dress your child lightly to help regulate body temperature.
    • Bathing: Consider bathing your child with lukewarm water to help bring down the fever.
    • Temperature Monitoring: Regularly check your child's temperature every 4-6 hours. Keep a record to provide accurate information to the child's healthcare professional, if needed.
    • Fever-Reducing Medications: Use age-specific doses of fever-reducing medications like Tylenol or Ibuprofen. 


    What is the Best Way to Check My Child's Temperature?

    "Temperatures are best taken orally or rectally depending on the age," says Dr. Gordon. "Digital thermometers can be accurate, but temperatures can vary by site. When taking your child's temperature, it is good practice to record the temperature, time, and site to relay this information to your health care professional."


    When Should Your Child's Doctor Be Called?

    This is possibly the most common question parents ask when they have a sick child. Dr. Gordon suggests it's important to contact your child's healthcare provider if:

    • Your child looks very ill or unusually drowsy.
    • Your child has other concerning symptoms like a stiff neck, severe headache, sore throat, ear pain, unexplained rash, repeated vomiting, or diarrhea.
    • Signs of dehydration are observed, such as dry mouth, sunken soft spot, significantly fewer wet diapers, or an inability to take in fluids.
    • Your child has been in a hot environment, like an overheated car, or has had a seizure.


    Remember, any child under two months old with a fever should be evaluated by their physician, and for children three months and older, a temperature of 100.4°F (38.0°C) or higher warrants a call to the doctor.


    Fevers in children can be a common occurrence; often, it's a sign of the body's natural response to infection. By understanding the signs, symptoms, and appropriate home care measures, parents can confidently navigate these episodes while knowing when to seek professional medical advice. Always consult your pediatrician for personalized guidance on managing your child's fever.


    For more information or to schedule an appointment at Palouse Pediatrics, please call the Pullman office at (509) 332-2605 or the Moscow office at (208) 882-2247. An on-call pediatrician is available 24/7 for all established patients. If your child is experiencing a life-threatening emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. 

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