Although a fever can be frightening to parents, a high temperature by itself is not a cause for concern; it is simply the body's way of fighting off a virus or bacteria. Many times, a fever is accompanied by other symptoms, including a loss of appetite. According to MayoClinic.com, a high fever is a temperature above 103 degrees. Whether you should seek medical treatment for your child depends on the other symptoms present.
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The common cold can cause a fever in children, though it usually does not rise above 102 degrees. Other common viruses, such as the coxsackie virus, which is responsible for hand-foot-mouth disease, and some causes of the stomach flu, can also cause a high fever. If your child has hand-foot-mouth disease, he will develop a sore throat, which may make eating difficult. A gastrointestinal virus causes nausea, vomiting, fever and a loss of appetite which may persist for several days. Your child might also have a fever and a loss of appetite for a few days after receiving vaccinations. If the fever gets up to 105 degrees, contact the doctor right away.
Serious Health Concerns
Some potentially serious conditions can cause a high fever with a loss of appetite. Encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain, for example, can cause these symptoms along with a headache, stiff neck, convulsions and drowsiness. Influenza often causes a high fever, and can also cause muscle aches, a cough and chills and shaking. Influenza can lead to secondary infections, such as pneumonia, which also cause high fevers and a loss of appetite.
Treating at Home
If your child has a fever, she will probably want to rest and sleep. Allow her to do so, but offer her fluids frequently to avoid dehydration, especially if she is not eating. If she has a sore throat, cold liquids may be especially soothing. Sponge her with lukewarm water to help bring down the fever, but if she starts shivering, stop. Shivering can raise her body temperature more. Keep her dressed in light clothing. Ask her pediatrician whether she should take fever-reducing medication, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, and what the correct dosage is.
When to Call the Doctor
If your child's fever is over 103 degrees and lasts for three days or more, he should see the doctor. A febrile seizure is scary to witness but usually does not cause lasting problems. If your child has a seizure, get medical help. Any symptoms lasting more than 10 days, trouble breathing, persistent vomiting, symptoms that improve then get worse or any symptoms that worry you warrant a doctor's visit.