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Merrimack Valley

February 7, 2014

Facts about childhood fever


If a child has a fever of 104 or higher and his or her body temperature will not come down to 101 or 102, even with treatment, this is a cause for concern. The following guideline can help parents determine if their child’s body temperature is something they should be concerned about.

Normal temperature - 97 to 99 degrees (36 to 37.2 Celsius).

Low-grade fever - 99 to 100.9 degrees (37.3 to 38.3 Celsius).

Common fever - 101 to 103.5 degrees (38.4 to 39.7 Celsius).

High fever - any fever over 103.6 degrees (39.8 Celsius).

Most pediatricians agree that a fever should not be treated with acetaminophen or ibuprofen if it is not making a child extremely uncomfortable. These medications can be used if the child has pain or is complaining about how they feel about the fever. Acetaminophen is used every 4 hours while ibuprofen lasts a little longer and is given every 6 to 8 hours.

When checking fevers, parents often wonder which thermometer is best. While some parents employ the lips-on-the-forehead method, there are more accurate methods of determining temperature readings.

Glass rectal or oral/underarm thermometers: These have been around the longest and have a proven record of accuracy. They do take the longest to read a temperature and can be difficult when dealing with fidgety kids.

Ear thermometer: This quick and easy thermometer has become a favorite method. But accuracy can vary, giving different readings from each ear.

Temporal thermometer: Another quick method, this thermometer is swept across the temporal artery in the forehead and has a better accuracy rating than the ear thermometer.

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