Treatment for Fever
For premature infants or infants less than 3 months old, call your child's doctor for instructions. For older children, some doctors believe that "fever is your friend" and does not require any treatment such as giving fever-reducing medicines until the fever is 102°F (38.8°C) or if the child is fussy and uncomfortable. There is evidence that fevers help to fight an infection.
In general, the main reason for treating a fever is to keep the child as comfortable as possible rather than getting the temperature back to normal.
If your child's temperature is more than 102°F (38.8°C), you may give your child a fever medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil).
Ibuprofen is not recommended in children under 6 months of age; acetaminophen is preferred. Use ibuprofen or acetaminophen in children over 6 months of age.
Do not alternate ibuprofen and acetaminophen to treat fever unless recommended by your doctor.
Never give aspirin to a child. The use of aspirin has been linked with a rare disorder called Reye's syndrome, which can be fatal.
Remember that all medicines can be poisonous if too much is taken. Follow instructions on the label. Be sure to keep all medicines out of the reach of children at all times.
Medication for Fever
How much fever medicine do I give?
Acetaminophen comes in different preparations and strengths specially made for infants and children such as infant drops or children's elixir. Each type of medicine requires a different amount be given.
Read the directions on the label about how much to give your child and be sure to measure the dose correctly. If you are not sure how much to give, or your child is under 2 years old, call the doctor or pharmacist; they may ask for your child's weight to compute the correct dose for your child.
Always use medicine made for children. Never give an infant or child a portion of the adult version of the medication.
How do I measure the correct amount of medicine?
If you are using a medicine dropper, hold it at eye level to make sure you are giving the correct amount. Use only the dropper that came with the medicine.
If you are measuring the medicine with a spoon, use an actual measuring spoon, because regular teaspoons come in different sizes and measure different amounts.
If you are using a medicine cup, be sure to fill it to the right mark at eye level.
- Take your child's temperature before giving any more fever medication. It is important to know if the fever has gone up or if the temperature is back to normal. This way, you can track a rising fever or avoid giving medicine that is not needed.
- Do not wake up your child to give medicine or to take a temperature. Sleep is more important.
- Dress your child in light clothes.
- Give your child more to drink when he / she has a fever. This will help to prevent dehydration.
- Allow your child to rest in a cool room.
Call Your Child's Doctor If:
- Your child has a temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or greater and is younger than 3 months
- Your child has a fever that lasts for more than 48 hours and is older than 3 months
- Your child is crying or whimpering and cannot be comforted
- Your child has a change from the usual type of cry (more shrill than usual)
- There is less urine than usual or if your child wets fewer diapers than usual (Infants usually have 6-8 diapers per day.)
- There are purple spots on the skin or bruising
- Your child cannot move his / her neck or has a stiff neck
- Your child has trouble breathing (pulling in at ribs, breathing fast or hard, or strange noises from the airway)
- Your child is hard to arouse or wake up
- Your child is not drinking or eating normally
- Your child has symptoms such as sore throat, ear pain, stomach pain or pain when urinating