Your child has a fever when she has a rectal or ear temperature of 100.4 degree Fahrenheit or greater, an oral temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or greater or an axillary -- underarm -- temperature of 99 degrees Fahrenheit or greater. Taking a temperature in the ear in a child under 6 months of age is not reliable. Some illnesses can almost be diagnosed by their symptoms, while others leave you puzzled. Roseola is an illness that can cause a child to have several days of fever with extremely mild symptoms, though you should always visit the pediatrician for an accurate diagnosis.
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Roseola is a very common and rarely serious illness that typically infects children by 2 years of age, according to the MayoClinic website. Roseola is caused by either human herpes virus 6 (HHV6) or herpes virus 7 (HHV7). The illness can cause several days of high fever, often higher than 103 degrees Fahrenheit, followed by a body rash that lasts several hours to several days. Fever might be the only symptom of roseola, but occasionally children can have a sore throat, runny nose, cough and swollen lymph nodes in the neck when they have the fever that precedes the rash. Roseola may be diagnosed by a doctor based on symptoms, or lack of symptoms, and then confirmed by the rash. The only treatment may include over-the-counter fever reducers like acetaminophen.
Fever can have many causes in addition to roseola. Take him to his pediatrician for a complete evaluation, even if he has no other symptoms and appears to feel fine since he has had a fever for three days or more. This is especially necessary if his fever is higher than 104 Fahrenheit or if he's under 12 weeks of age.
You can keep a child with a fever comfortable before she sees the doctor by giving over-the counter, fever-reducing medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Make sure you read the dosage instructions on the container. Your child only needs medication to keep her comfortable in the case of high fever -- 102 degrees Fahrenheit -- since she has no other symptoms. Medication usually lowers a fever two or three degrees. Do not give a child aspirin because of the risk of Reye's syndrome, which is a serious brain disease.
When to Seek Emergency Help
Your pediatrician may instruct you to observe a child who has had a fever for several days with no other symptoms. If you notice your child is not moving or is very weak, she is difficult to awaken or unresponsive, she has blue lips and is having problems breathing or she has blood-colored or purple marks on her skin, call 911.