Nearly every parent has felt their child’s hot, feverish forehead and worried. Is it serious? How high is too high? Should they go to the doctor?
Many doctors see worried parents bring in their feverish children for treatment. When it comes to fever, prompt medical treatment can be very important. However, in most cases, fevers are not dangerous and can even be viewed as helpful as they fight infections naturally.
Fever is a healthy sign the body is working properly to fight and overcome an infection. Through a chemical reaction, your body elevates your core temperature in an effort to stop bad viruses and bacteria from replicating. Since viruses and bacteria can normally only reproduce when conditions are just right, this is a very effective way to shut them down.
Viruses are the most common sources of fever in kids. Young children may have seven to 10 viral illnesses with fever each year — especially if they’re in daycare or preschool, where viruses spread easily among children. The second most common sources of infection are bacteria. Both types of infections can cause fevers.
In very young children — especially infants under 3 months old — fevers can be concerning. This is because their immune systems are still developing, and a fever can put them at risk for a severe infection.
For preschoolers and school-age children, pediatricians worry much less about fevers unless the fever lasts for four days or more. Look for symptoms such as significant listlessness/irritability, a bad sore throat, worsening coughing or pain with urination.