Fever is one of the body's most important warning signs, an alert to parents that something is wrong. Knowing how to interpret that warning sign and other symptoms and "clues" that present themselves in key fever-related illnesses can help you decide when to call your doctor and may even help you save your child's life.

What are the most common causes of fever in children?

  • Upper respiratory infections (common cold)
  • Viral illnesses such as stomach flu (gastroenteritis)
  • Pneumonia
  • Ear infections, usually associated with a cold
  • Viral illnesses associated with a rash, such as chicken pox, roseola or Fifth Disease
  • Kidney infections or urinary tract infections

How can I tell if my child has a fever?

  • A rectal temperature of 100.4 degrees or more
  • A oral temperature of 99.5 degrees or more
  • An auxiliary armpit temperature of 98.6 degrees or more

What do I need to know about infants with a fever?

  • For infants 12 months old or younger, only a rectal temperature is a reliable method of detecting a fever.
  • For infants 3 months old or younger, a fever can be a very serious problem. Any infant who has a rectal temperature of 100.4 degrees or more should be evaluated by your physician as soon as possible.

What are signs that my infant has a fever?
Some important signs of illness in infants under the age of three months include:

  • Inconsolable crying
  • Rectal temperature of 100.4 degrees or more
  • Decreased appetite
  • Fussiness
  • Lethargy or excessiveness sleepiness

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