When to Take Your Little One to Urgent Care for a Fever

Feb 02, 2024
When to Take Your Little One to Urgent Care for a Fever
It’s disconcerting when your child is sick, and it can be especially worrisome when they’re running a fever. The good news is that most fevers aren’t life-threatening. Here’s how to tell when to head to urgent care.

When your little one develops a fever, it’s normal for your level of concern to rise; after all,  fevers can sometimes be associated with serious illness. The good news is that most fevers aren’t a sign of a life-threatening illness. 

But that doesn’t mean they’re always straightforward or stress-free. The good news is that our expert team of board-certified pediatric providers at Rural Health Corporation of Northeastern Pennsylvania is here to help. 

We offer comprehensive pediatric care at our offices in Nuremberg, Freeland, Falls, Hazleton, LaPorte, Noxen, Wilkes Barre, Shickshinny, and Edwardsville, Pennsylvania. To help you take good care of your ill child, we want you to understand exactly what a fever is — and know how to recognize the signs that indicate it’s time to head to urgent care. 

Understanding fevers in children

Most of us have heard that the normal human body temperature is 98.6° Fahrenheit (F). But “normal” for humans is really a range of temperatures between 97° F and 99° F — including in children.  

Your child has a fever when their body temperature is above 100.4° F using a temporal artery, rectal, or ear thermometer. It develops as their immune system tries to fight against an illness or infection. 

Compared to adults, children are more likely to get frequent fevers and fevers that run at higher temperatures. They also can have what seems like a high temperature and not feel as uncomfortable as you might with the same fever.  

When to manage fevers at home

Most fevers may not be serious, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep an eye on your child’s temperature. However, in most cases, you can manage a fever at home. Here’s a closer look at what you can do:  

Keep them home

First, be sure to keep your sick child home, since a fever is a sign their body is fighting off an infection — even if they don’t have other symptoms. This way, they won’t get other people sick. 

Provide plenty of fluids

If your child's fever is 102° F or below and they’re not experiencing any uncomfortable symptoms, you can usually skip fever-reducing medications and instead encourage them to drink plenty of fluids. Just be sure to track their temperature and behavior to make sure it’s staying consistent or improving. 

Soothe their symptoms

When children have other symptoms along with their fever, like a headache, sore throat, cough, fussiness, sleepiness, or lethargy, you can help them feel better by encouraging fluids and using cold compresses or popsicles. 

Treat their fever

You can also give your child over-the-counter medicines to help them be more comfortable, but unless directed by your doctor, never give aspirin to a child. Use ibuprofen or acetaminophen instead, and follow dosage directions closely or check with your Rural Health Corporation of Northeastern Pennsylvania provider.   

When a fever warrants a call to your pediatrician 

You can always call your pediatric provider at Rural Health Corporation of Northeastern Pennsylvania for advice about your child’s fever, but there are some times when it’s important to check in with a pediatric expert.

For example, if your child has a high fever, give your doctor a call for personalized advice as they may want to evaluate other symptoms. In children, a high fever is defined as:

  • Between three months and three years old: A temperature higher than 102.2° F
  • From four years old through adolescence: A temperature higher than 104° F 

You should also call if your child over three months of age, but under two years old, has a fever over 100.4° F that lasts longer than 24 hours

In addition, it’s time to call for medical advice if your child’s fever doesn’t improve with at-home management, persists for more than five days, or develops after an immunization and lasts for more than two days. 

Remember, you can always call our friendly providers with any fever-related questions.

Signs it’s time to head to urgent care or the ER

There are times when a fever signals a serious issue. If you have a baby three months or younger who develops a temperature above 100.4° F, head to your nearest urgent care or emergency room (ER)

For children of all ages, you should also go straight to urgent care if:

  • Your child’s behavior suddenly changes when the fever develops 
  • A fever is accompanied by a seizure (if it lasts for more than 5 minutes, call 911)
  • They have a high fever and a headache with a stiff neck
  • They have a fever accompanied by a purple and red rash
  • Your child refuses to drink or appears very dehydrated 

For more information, contact us at the Pennsylvania location nearest you. Our practice works with most major health insurance plans, and we offer a sliding fee schedule for those without insurance. If getting your child here for a visit is problematic, ask us about our door-to-door transportation services.