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Fighting Fever

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 or Pedialyte. 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.
  • Tylenol (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 on his or head)
  • Has difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Has a seizure