Flu and Fever: When is a temperature too high?
Flu season has finally begun in Western Pennsylvania and with that comes the cough, congestion, body aches, and definitely a fever. So when is a temperature too high? Everyone reacts differently to a fever. I have seen quite active and playful patients with a temperature over 103 ºF and some appearing very ill with their temperature under 100 ºF. I treat the fever only when a child is not feeling well. It is alright to have a fever, as it can be beneficial. It is a symptom that aids in the body’s defense.
So what about febrile seizures? These do happen occasionally, but treating with fever reducers does not prevent them. Although scary to observe (my son has had two), febrile seizures are not dangerous.
So when to worry? Fever — defined as a rectal or oral temperature of 100.4 ºF or above — is an emergency in any child under 3 months old and medical attention should be sought immediately. Older children should be evaluated for temperatures above 105 ºF, or for persistent fever that lasts 5 days or longer.
So what about treatment? Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are medications that can be used to reduce fever and lessen symptoms. However, an infant has to be at least 6 months old to receive ibuprofen. Aspirin should never be given children as it can cause Reye Syndrome, a disease that can cause swelling of the liver and /or brain.
*** Michael Petrosky, M.D., F.A.A.P. sees patients at our Pediatric Alliance Wexford office, located in Health + Wellness Pavilion.