Updated: Jan 25, 2019
Q: What is a fever?
Fever is a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) or higher.
Q: Should I give my toddler medicine to treat fever?
Medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen should not be given simply because the thermometer says your child has a fever. Medication should only be used if your child is feeling really crummy and has a fever.
For example, if your toddler is usually running all over the place and now all they want to do is lay on the couch, they refuse to eat, they are more grouchy or clingy than usual and they just seem like they do not feel good. This is the moment when you give medication to your toddler with fever.
A child who has a fever but is still eating well, sleeping well, and although they might not be at 100% their normal energy level, they are still playing with their toys and managing okay- this child does not need to be treated with medications.
While antipyretics are very good at reducing fevers, they shouldn’t be given just because your kid has a fever. They should be given to help make your child more comfortable when he or she has a fever.
A fever is your body’s natural response to infection. A healthy body will increase the temperature to try and kill off the infection. By decreasing the fever with medications, you can increase the time it takes for your body to fight off the infection. But on the other hand, when your child is feeling so crummy with whatever virus of the week is going around daycare and he or she won’t eat, then that is time to treat.
Remember when kids are sick, they need to eat, drink a lot, and sleep. If fever and illness get in the way of those three things, then it is time to treat the fever.
Important things to know:
Ibuprofen should NEVER be given to a child younger than 6 months old.
Fevers in babies younger than two months ALWAYS need to be evaluated by a doctor.
If your child is showing any of the following symptoms, they need to see a doctor right away:
Decreased wet diapers in babies or not peeing as frequently in older children
Persistent diarrhea or vomiting
Bloody diarrhea or vomit
Difficulty breathing, wheezing, or shortness of breath
Difficult to wake (more than usual, I know some kids are heavy sleepers!)
Seizures with fever
Most importantly, if YOU are concerned for any reason.
Source: Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children