Whether you’re a first-time parent or you’ve been through it before, when your little one has a fever, it can be a scary feeling. When should you call the doctor? When should you rush your child to the emergency room or urgent care?
Dr. Afshin Akhavan, a parent himself, along with our compassionate primary care medical team, understands your concerns and is here to answer your questions and provide support for your family’s health care needs. At Casa de Salud’s two offices in Los Angeles, California, in downtown and Normandie, we provide state-of-the-art health care to people of all ages in a warm, welcoming, supportive environment. If you have children, or are planning to start a family, here’s what you should know about child and infant fevers.
A fever is often a sign of an underlying infection
When your baby or child has a fever, it’s usually a sign that there’s an underlying infection somewhere in their body. The infection can be bacterial or viral, but you won’t know the difference. You just know that your little one isn’t quite right. When your child’s internal thermostat reaches a higher-than-normal level past 98.6˚F, it’s usually in response to an illness, and their body is trying to fight off germs.
Common causes of fevers
Until you take your baby or child to the doctor, it’s hard to know if they have an infection or they have a fever for another reason. Some common causes of child and infant fevers include routine immunizations and overdressing your baby in a hot environment.
After an immunization, your child might get a low-grade fever. And it’s certainly not uncommon to overdress your newborn in an attempt to keep them warm. However, babies can’t regulate their body temperatures as easily as older kids, so if they overheat, they could end up with a fever.
Symptoms of a fever
When your little one has a fever, they can’t always tell you they’re not feeling well or where it hurts. In addition to feeling warmer when you touch their skin or having a temperature higher than 98.6˚F, signs of a fever also include:
- Cranky or fussy behavior
- Poor sleeping
- Not eating or drinking well
- Acting lethargic
- Skin rash
- Dry mouth
- Pale skin color
- Breathing problems
If your infant has a swelling of the soft spot on the top of their head accompanied by a fever, it can indicate a more serious problem, and you should seek immediate medical care.
When to call the doctor
Most of the time, your toddler or child recovers from the fever without cause for alarm. Kids whose temperatures don’t go above 102˚F may feel uncomfortable, but typically don’t need medicine or a visit to the doctor. We recommend calling our office for guidelines regarding how to keep your child comfortable until the fever passes, such as dressing them in a light layer of clothing and making sure they get enough fluids to avoid dehydration.
If your baby is under three months old and has a fever, contact our office right away so we can discuss any other symptoms and determine the best course of action. For babies under two months old with a fever, consider it an emergency and seek immediate medical attention.
You know your child best. Watch their behavior to see if they’re still interested in playing, they look well as the fever comes down, and they’re eating and drinking. If they do all of these things, the fever probably isn't a sign of a serious illness, but rather a mild infection.
If the fever comes and goes for more than a few days, it’s best to contact Casa de Salud for an appointment so we can perform a thorough examination and prescribe treatment.
When it comes to your children’s health and well-being — or the health of any member of your family who isn’t feeling well — don’t hesitate to contact one of our Los Angeles area offices by phone. You can also request an appointment through our convenient online system anytime.