A Nurse Practitioners Note on Fever

Michael Ann Vaughn is a graduate of the University of Washington’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program, specializing in Pediatric Primary Care. She completed the LEND Fellowship (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities) through UW to focus on her passion for working with children who have ASD and neurodevelopmental disorders. She earned her BSN from Montana State University in Missoula, MT. Her nursing experience includes working at Valley Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

She is excited about the opportunity primary care offers to improve the health and lives of children and their families by providing support, resources and medical attention.

 What is a fever? 

• Medically defined as over 100.4º F or 38º C

• Usually harmless

• A sign the child’s immune system is working and fighting off an illness 

• Can be caused by many different things. Some common causes of fever in kids: viral illness (like the common cold), flu, ear infection, urinary tract infection 

• Can be environmental


 What can I do for my child if they have a fever? 

  • Let them rest
  • Provide them comfort and activities that help them feel better: bath or shower, cool washcloth on head
  • Encourage fluids: water, juice, or Pedialyte
  • Can give acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen to help them feel better. Make sure it’s the correct dose for your child’s age and weight. Ibuprofen is NOT used for infants under 6 months. 
  • DO NOT give aspirin to children 


 When fever indicates to contact a medical provider: 

  • Child looks very sick 
  • You’re concerned about dehydration
  • Your child has a chronic medical condition 
  • Child has one or more of the following symptoms with their fever: Stiff neck, rash, bad headache, sore throat, ear pain, lethargic, bad stomachache, repeated vomiting or diarrhea, decreased response to your voice 
  • Fever that lasts for more than 24 hours if child is less than 24 months old
  • If you are concerned about your child’s symptoms or behavior 
  • Child was left in a hot environment like a car 
  • Infant 3 months or younger with a fever
  • Fever lasting longer than 3 days
  • Fever over 103ºF or 39.4º C

 Questions? I would love to hear from you! 

 Fever is a big topic and this is just a brief overview. ICAN Pediatrics would love to hear from you! 


 References: 1. American Academy of Pediatrics. Plain Language Pediatrics: Fever. https://patiented.solutions.aap.org/handout-collection.aspx?categoryid=32035. Updated 2008. Accessed November 5, 2018. 2. American Academy of Pediatrics. Point-of-Care Solutions. Fever and Your Child. https://patiented.solutions.aap.org/handouts.aspx. Updated 2018. Accessed November 5, 2018. 3. Mayo Clinic. Fever. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fever/symptoms-causes/syc-20352759. Updated July 21, 2017. Accessed November 6, 2018. 

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