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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Medical Symptoms > Fever in Children
      Category : Health Centers > Children's Health

Fever in Children

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Fever is a higher-than-normal body temperature. Normal temperature is usually defined as 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (F) or 37 degrees Celsius (C). Many healthcare providers would say a child truly has a fever when his or her temperature is greater than 99.5 degrees F or 37.5 degrees C.

What is going on in the body?

Normally, body temperature changes throughout the day. Exercise, stress, or dehydration may cause a child's temperature to go up. In these cases, it is not considered a true fever.

Fever is a symptom, not a disease. Fever helps the body fight infections by making its defense systems work more efficiently. Bacteria and viruses cannot live at higher temperatures and so are killed by fever.

In very young children, even minor ailments can create fevers of 105 degrees F or more. On the other hand, serious viral infections sometimes bring only moderate fevers.

What are the causes and risks of the symptom?

Usually, fevers in children are caused by viral infections. The most common are colds, flu, and gastroenteritis, which tend to be more inconvenient than dangerous. Other viral illnesses in children include fifth disease, chickenpox, and other rash-related illnesses.

Some other common causes of fever in children include the following:

  • acute otitis media, or middle ear infection
  • bacterial meningitis, which is inflammation of the spinal cord lining
  • cancer
  • childhood immunizations, such as the DPT vaccine
  • heat emergencies, such as heatstroke or heat exhaustion
  • pneumonia
  • rheumatoid diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • skin infections
  • strep throat or scarlet fever
  • urinary tract infections
  • overbundling or overdressing a small child


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    Fever in Children: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: John Wegmann, MD
    Reviewer: William M. Boggs, MD
    Date Reviewed: 08/20/01

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