my 3 year old granddaughter had been sick alday and
No clear cut values but generally if temperature 104 or above and not responding to paracetamol/ibuprofen it might be safer to see a doctor
Thank you for asking at "Ask a Doctor" service.
Temperature is a very common finding in children especially with the different infections, mostly viral infections, that they get. Th temperature is a protective mechanism of the body to fight infections and its presence is no worrying. What worries us is the cause of the fever, why the child has fever.
So it is not the level of fever that is what is the index to send the child to hospital, even though most of the times if the fever is 104 and above and it does not go down with paracetamol/ibuprofen it might be safer to send the child in the hospital to make sure there is no serious conditions causing it. Cold sponging can be helpful.
Presence of other signs and symptoms might be important to determine if the child should be sent to hospital. The child wanting to sleep if this happens outside of fever episodes or for too long during the day, might be a reason to send the child to hospital even if the fever is not too high. If the child is not eating or drinking might be another reason.
So to conclude:
- there is no clear cut value of temperature to indicate need to hospitalize a child but if 104 F and above might be safer to send to hospital if fever does not respond to paracetamol/ibuprofen
- if fever last longer then 4 days is another reason to send the child to see the doctor
- watch for other important signs like lethargy (sleepiness) especially during the day and also during times that the child does not have fever- this might indicate a need to see a doctor
- if the child is not taking food and fluids might be good to have her checked. Vomiting and diarrhea might also be a reason for medical attention if the child is not taking enough fluids and electrolytes (rehydration solutions) to substitute the losses.
Hope I have answered your query. Let me know if I can assist you further.
Dr. Antoneta Zotaj,
General & Family Physician