Should You Call the Doctor about Your Child's Fever?

As a parent, you worry when your child has a fever, especially if it occurs late at night. When fevers come on, you might ask yourself, should we go to the emergency room or should we wait to see the doctor?

While there are no hard and fast rules, the guidelines below may help you decide what kind of medical care to seek for your child’s fever. If you have any concerns, always call your physician.

Go to the emergency room

If your child has a fever of 104 degrees, go immediately to the emergency room for help lowering the fever. These fevers can have serious, long-lasting effects on your child’s health.

You may also go to the emergency room if a fever is accompanied by confusion, seizures, trouble breathing or constant crying. If your child has been in a hot place, such as a hot car, or if you have difficulty waking your child up, seek emergency care.

Go to urgent care

For fevers between 100.4 and 103, you may want care quickly but not need the level of care available in an emergency room. You can go to an urgent care center if you feel your child needs symptom relief, has other symptoms such as rash, headache or diarrhea, and cannot wait to go to an appointment with his or her physician.

Call your physician

You should always call your physician immediately if your infant under the age of three months has a fever above 100.3 degrees. In babies between three months and two years of age, call your physician if the low-grade fever is causing your child to be irritable, keeps them from eating or lasts more than 24 hours.

For older children, monitor low-grade fevers and call if it last more than three days. Take their temperature every few hours and give them the appropriate dose of fever reducing medicines. If you are unsure about how much medicine your child should receive, ask your physician.

When in doubt, always call your physician for guidance on seeking care for your child. For more on fevers and other childhood illnesses, check out How Sick is Sick?

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