Fevers can often be very dangerous to a young child. Typically, a “high fever” is considered a body temperature over 100.5 degrees. Normal body temperature varies from 96.8 to 100.4. Often times a high fever is the body’s normal response to an infection, and is often times caused by various viruses. However, bacterial infections can be hard to detect, and it is important to seek medical attention immediately if your young child develops the following symptoms:
Your child may experience a change in normal behavior, i.e. lethargy, fussiness, won’t stop crying, or has no interest in eating. If your child is not able to keep liquids or solids down and is vomiting, this is not a good sign. They are in danger of dehydration, especially when they are not able to urinate or defecate.
If they experience difficulty breathing, or their heart rate becomes unusually fast, this is also a symptom of a dangerously high fever.
Some children often experience some kind of a rash on parts or all of their body, or “blotches”, which is also in response to a fever.
In some rare cases if the fever is very high, a child may experience what is called “a febrile seizure” or convulsion; which can be extremely dangerous.
Before seeking medical attention, it is good to give a child a cool bath, to try to bring down the body’s temperature. The water should be lukewarm; not cold, and they should respond by telling you it feels good to them. However, if after the bath their temperature begins to rise again, it is time to seek medical attention.
Fevers as high as 102-103 degrees should be dealt with immediately by a medical professional. If this event occurs during the night, the child should be taken to the emergency room. At the hospital, a doctor will evaluate your child visually, and will often perform various tests to make sure they are not suffering from a more dangerous illness, such as meningitis. They may take a urine sample to make sure they do not have an infection, or a strep screen, to make sure tonsillitis or strep throat is not the issue.
In addition, some infections to not appear right away, and may be difficult to detect. It is important to watch your child carefully and return to the doctor or emergency room if their symptoms return.
After initial treatment by a doctor, it is not recommended to give a young child aspirin. They should be given Tylenol or ibuprofen, until the fever is reduced completely back to normal.