Ask the Doctor: When Should I Worry About a Fever?
Doctors at Minit Medical answer some of the questions submitted by readers.
Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Doctor” column.
Q: My child has been running a slight fever for two days now, should I consult a doctor?
A: Medically, a fever is defined as a temperature above 100.4 degrees.
Although fevers can understandably be worrisome, not all are necessarily bad or detrimental. They are actually an instrumental part of the body’s disease-fighting arsenal – elevated body temperature helps fight off and kill the attackers (viruses, bacteria and other organisms). Therefore low-grade fevers can be safely monitored without treatment.
If someone’s temperature reaches 104 degrees, it definitely should be lowered to prevent consequences such as seizure or confusion and immediate medical attention sought. But between 100 and 103 degrees, the need for treatment depends on how the person is handling it.
For example, if the patient feels fine with a fever of 102 degrees (no vomiting and normal behavior, etc), then let it ride. On the other hand, if there’s a fever of 101 degrees and the patient is fussy and miserable (headache, no appetite, crying), then treat it.
Home therapy options include removing clothes, acetaminophen, cool baths and sponging the skin. Of course, the cause of fever should always be clarified since bacterial infections usually need antibiotics.
If you have concerns, you should always feel like you can discuss this with a medical professional, even if it’s just for piece of mind.