Cold and Flu
How to treat a fever
When cold and flu season strikes, fever often comes with the territory – and the ways to deal with a fever can be as varied as the colds and flu themselves.
Not all fevers need to be treated, remember. The general rule of thumb is, if it's not causing any other problems like dehydration or discomfort, there is no need to medicate.
However, for those stubborn fevers, a list of treatments and remedies is listed below:
- Use acetaminophen or ibuprofen based on the package recommendations for age or weight. It will bring a temperature down, but it will not return it to normal and it won't treat the underlying reason for the fever.
- A sponge bath can make you more comfortable and help bring the fever down. Use only lukewarm water - cool water may cause shivering, which actually raises body temperature.
- Dress in lightweight clothing and cover with a light sheet or blanket. Overdressing and over-bundling can prevent body heat from escaping and can cause a temperature to rise.
- Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Water, soup, ice pops and flavored gelatin are all good choices.
- If your child has a fever accompanied by vomiting and / or diarrhea, ask your doctor about electrolyte solutions made especially for children, and whether you should use them. Also, limit your child's intake of fruits and apple juice.
- Get lots of rest.
When to call a doctor
Whether to call the doctor or not can depend on many different factors, such as the exact temperature, age of the child, the illness and whether there are other symptoms with the fever.
Call your child's doctor if you have:
- An infant younger than three months with a temperature of 100.4 F (38 C).
- An older child with a temperature of higher than 104 F (40 C).
If you have an older child with a fever of less than 104 F, call the doctor if your child also:
- Refuses fluids or seems too ill to drink adequately.
- Has persistent diarrhea or repeated vomiting.
- Has any signs of dehydration.
- Has a specific complaint (ex. sore throat or earache).
- Still has a fever after 24 hours in a child younger than two years, or 72 hours in a child two years or older.
- Has recurrent fevers, even if they only last a few hours each night.
Seek emergency care if your child shows any of the following signs along with a fever:
- Inconsolable crying for several hours.
- Extreme irritability.
- Lethargy and difficulty waking.
- Rash or purple spots that look like bruises on the skin (that weren't there before the child got sick).
- Blue lips, tongue and / or nails.
- Infant's soft spot on the head seems to be bulging outward.
- Stiff neck.
- Severe headache.
- Limpness and refusal to move.
- Difficulty breathing that doesn't get better when the nose is cleared.
- Leaning forward and drooling.