Monday's in the office are always busy and one of the most predictable visits will be for a child who has had a fever over the weekend. Fevers and kids are like salt and pepper they just go together. Why they seem to be worse or more frequent over the weekend, I don't know, but the doctor/mother in me thinks it is true. The most frequently asked question is ‘when do I need to see the doctor for a fever?' There is not one simple answer but here are some simple rules of thumb for calling the pediatrician:
- Any infant under two months of age with a fever needs to see the pediatrician immediately.
- An infant over two months of age with fever, irritability, poor feeding or lethargy, you should call to discuss with the doctor or nurse and an appointment as necessary.
As your child gets older they are more likely to have a viral infection causing their fever and it is easier to assess their severity of illness. Most children are cranky with fever, don't want to eat a lot, may not sleep as well, and just seem "off".
Treat their fever with either acetaminophen or ibuprofen according to the dosage chart for their weight. If your child seems to perk up after the fever comes down, plays for awhile, eats a popsicle or ice cream etc., and has a little more energy it is safe to watch them.
You can almost watch their fever return as they push away the toy, refuse their snack and begin to whine. This may continue as their fever goes up and down through out the day. Make sure they are hydrated even if they won't eat. I always say, "pull out that forbidden juice, soft drink, popsicle or ice cream" when they are sick so that they will drink or eat, and put it back up once they are better. Sick treats are good for everyone.
If your child has a fever for more than three days, it is a good idea to schedule an appointment for the doctor, just for a thorough exam and reassurance. Most often they will be sent home with a diagnosis of viral infection and the fever will resolve quickly thereafter.
Remember, fever is your friend. The more you deal with it as a parent, the better you get at realizing it is only a symptom and your child's best treatment may be your TLC.
That's your daily dose, we'll chat tomorrow!