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5 Serious Symptoms in Children to Never Ignore

What to keep in mind if your child gets a very high temperature or other worrisome symptoms.
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High Fever in a Child Older Than 1 continued...

“We constantly try to teach parents not to look at the thermometer, but what kids' symptoms are and what they look like,” says Schmitt, who created the KidsDoc app for smartphones from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a triage system that helps parents figure out how to treat kids' symptoms.

A fever is part of the body’s way of defending itself against an infection. If a child has a fever, it means that his immune system is working. A fever, by definition, is 100.4 F, taken rectally. You may want to take a toddler’s temperature under his arm, but be sure to add one degree to the results, to get a more accurate number.

You can give your child medicine such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen (if the child is more than 6 months old) to reduce his fever. But be sure that it's truly necessary, and keep close tabs on the dosage of this or any medication in children, whether it's from a prescription or not. Remember, fever reducers don’t fight the infection that's causing the fever, it just reduces the fever temporarily.

A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics found that one in four parents give their children fever-reducing medication when their temperature is less than 100 F, but most pediatricians don't recommend treating a fever unless it's above 101 F. And if your child looks well and is eating and drinking, skip the trip to the ER; a high fever by itself doesn't always need immediate medical attention.

“Most fevers in a child are not medical emergencies and can wait until the office opens to see a doctor,” says AAP spokeswoman Ari Brown, MD, a pediatrician based in Austin, Texas. She recommends that you bring your child age 2 or older to the doctor if he has a fever of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, if he looks unwell, or if he has had a persistent fever for four or more days in a row . A child younger than 2 should be seen by a doctor within 48 hours of a fever.

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