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An Update on Prevea’s Western Wisconsin Operation

A fever isn’t necessarily a bad thing when it comes to illness; it’s a sign that the body is trying to fight off an infection. Most of the time, a fever is caused by a viral infection that just needs time to run its course. In pediatrics, we think of any temperature above 100.4 as a fever, especially in young infants. In babies younger than 2 months, a fever is a big deal, and most certainly merits a call to a pediatrician’s office.

You can check your child’s temperature if you think they feel especially warm, may be getting sick or is not acting like they normally do. If your infant is inconsolable or lethargic, seek medical attention immediately. 

Rectal or forehead thermometers are preferred for infants. Axillary (underarm) temperatures can be taken at any age but are less accurate. You can start by checking a temperature under the arm, though if you're truly concerned, checking a rectal temperature will be more accurate. Children 4 years of age or older can use oral thermometers.

It’s always okay to call the doctor’s office and consult with the staff or ask if your child should be seen by their pediatrician if you’re concerned about a fever. The guidelines below can help you know when and how to seek medical attention or advice for infants and small children:

  • 0-3 months and temperature above 100.4°F = seek medical attention immediately. 
  • 3-6 months and temperature above 100.4°F = call for medical advice right away or bring them in as soon as possible. 
  • 6 months or older and temperature 104.0°F = call for medical advice right away or bring them in as soon as possible.

Fevers can be very scary for many parents, but it helps to remember that most fevers are not harmful. With time and supportive care, they will go away on their own in a healthy child.

The next question is whether to treat the fever. The number on the thermometer is only half of the equation. The child’s appearance and demeanor is the other half. A child who is alert and playful and interested in drinking, doesn’t necessarily need something like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) to bring the fever down. With children, it is important to make sure they are receiving the proper dosage of medication. In pediatric patients, we dose medicines based on weight as opposed to age, to ensure effectiveness and safety.

Children with fever are at risk for dehydration, so encouraging them to drink plenty of fluids is important. In infants, continuing with breast milk or formula is ideal, but oral rehydration solutions like Pedialyte can also be used. In older children, water and milk remain good choices in addition to something like Pedialyte.

Prevea has a 24-hour phone nurse, walk-in urgent care and same- or next-day appointments with a pediatrician. Learn more.