Fever in children: when to see a doctor

Fever in children: When to see a doctor

Finding out your child has a fever these days, mid-pandemic, is an entirely new ball game. A feverish child sent home from school could mean quarantine for both your child and their class. But despite the fact that we have a global virus issue, there are many other possible causes for fever in your child. COVID-19 will likely be the first worry that comes to mind for many parents, but it’s important to know the most common possible other causes of fever in children as well as when to seek out help.


What temperature is considered a fever?


It’s important to know what constitutes a fever, and what would be considered a high fever. It’s different by age group. In general, anything over 100.4 is considered a fever. Anything over 102.5 is considered a high fever in kids over 3, while anything over 103 is considered high in older kids. 


Common fever causes in kids


-Viral infections 

Many fevers are caused by viral infections such as the flu. Symptoms of the flu include: fever, sore throat, cough, runny nose, chills, body aches, fatigue, and irritability. If your child experiences these symptoms it may be the flu that is causing their fever.


-Bacterial infections

Certain bacterial infections like strep throat cause fever. These can be tested for at your child’s doctor or an urgent care, and antibiotics are often prescribed.


-Non-illness related causes

There are some fevers that are not caused by bacteria or a virus. A couple examples include fevers after a vaccine or certain inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis — inflammation of the lining of the joints


When should you see a doctor?


If your child has a high fever, or any fever if they are under 6 months old, see their doctor. If you are unable to bring down their fever with medication, they are becoming dehydrated, or new symptoms appear, you should also take them in to be seen. If your child has a seizure, is experiencing breathing issues, or loses consciousness, seek emergency care. 


All that being said, with the current pandemic, it’s a good idea to have them seen for any fever to be tested for the coronavirus. This is especially true if they are attending in-person school so their illness can be reported. Find out from their school what the policies are when fever is discovered in your child.