For the safety of your family, this information is intended for use by North Seattle Pediatrics patients exclusively.

Fever is usually a sign that your child’s immune system is responding to an infection of some kind. Unless your child is under three months, you may take the temperature with any thermometer.  A digital thermometer under the arm is fine and will have a result within one half a degree of the core temperature.  Ear thermometers can read several degrees higher than your child’s actual temperature and so are the least accurate.

Fever in an infant under 3 months may represent a serious infection, so it is important to have an accurate temperature for these babies.  Use a rectal thermometer for infants under 3 months.  For an infant under 3 months with a fever (100.4° F rectal or 38° Celsius) call us immediately at 206-368-6080.

Most infections causing fever are caused by viruses and involve only mild signs of illness or discomfort. The fever is part of the body’s response to fight off the virus and is not harmful.  Children will often have fever up to 104° F (40° C) with a viral illness.  Typically fevers due to a virus will spike up and down 2 or 3 times a day for 3-5 days.  Fever can make children not feel well and not look well. If your child is uncomfortable we recommend that you use a fever reducing medication (Tylenol or ibuprofen).

Call us at 206-368-6080 now if your child:

  • is less than 3 months old and has a fever above 100.4° F (38° C)
  • has purple or blood-red spots on the skin
  • has sudden onset of drooling or spitting or difficulty swallowing
  • has difficulty breathing (see croup, cough, asthma)
  • has severe abdominal pain
  • has lethargy – more than the usual tiredness from fever and illness – to the point of not smiling or playing, being too weak to cry, being floppy or hard to awaken
  • has a fever over 105° F taken by a thermometer other than an ear thermometer

Call us during office hours if your child:

  • has a sore throat with fever but does not have a cold or cough
  • has vomiting with fever over 102° F
  • has a fever return after being gone for more than 24 hours