It’s never easy to see your child sick—especially when they have a fever. And while most parents worry about this common symptom, it’s important to remember that a fever doesn’t necessarily require medical attention. In fact, a fever is just part of the immune system’s natural response to infection. So if your child is otherwise alert, hydrated and behaving normally, it may be fine to let a fever run its course. But here are some other things you can try.
When it comes to treating a fever, you have many options:
- Have your child drink plenty of liquids, including water, Gatorade or fruit juice. Popsicles and Jell-O may also help keep your child happy and hydrated.
- Encourage them to rest, and provide quiet activities such as puzzles, storybooks, coloring or movies.
- Bathe them with lukewarm water. Do not use extremely cold water (which can cause shivering and chills) or rubbing alcohol (which may be absorbed through the skin).
- Dress them lightly and set your home’s thermostat to a comfortable, moderate temperature.
- Acetaminophen may be helpful in treating a fever (be sure to consult a doctor if you’re uncertain), but do not give aspirin to children under the age of 19. Aspirin has been linked to Reye’s syndrome, a serious disease that can be fatal.
When to Seek Help
Most fevers can be treated at home, but seek medical attention immediately if your child:
- Is younger than 3 months old and has a rectal temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or more
- Develops a persistent temperature of 102 degrees or more
- Is undergoing chemotherapy or has a problem with his or her immune system
- Has a persistent fever accompanied by stiff neck, rash, severe vomiting or diarrhea, or significant abdominal pain
- Cries constantly or shows signs of earache
- Is lethargic, confused or slow to respond
- Shows signs of dehydration (such as decreased urination or a sunken soft spot)
- Has difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Has a seizure