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Fever in Children 4 Years and Older: Care Instructions

Electronic and ear thermometers

Your Care Instructions

A fever is a high body temperature.

Fever is the body's normal reaction to infection and other illnesses, both minor and serious. Fevers help the body fight infection. In most cases, fever means your child has a minor illness. Often you must look at your child's other symptoms to determine how serious the illness is. Although it may be scary when your child's temperature goes up, a fever often does not harm your child.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Don't use temperature alone to judge how sick your child is. Instead, look at how your child acts. Care at home is often all that is needed if your child is:
    • Comfortable and alert.
    • Eating well.
    • Drinking enough fluid.
    • Urinating as usual.
    • Starting to feel better.
  • Give your child extra fluids or flavoured ice pops to suck on. This will help prevent dehydration.
  • Dress your child in light clothes or pyjamas. Don't wrap your child in blankets.
  • If your child has a fever and is uncomfortable, give an over-the-counter medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin). Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 18. It has been linked to Reye syndrome, a serious illness.
  • Be careful when giving your child over-the-counter cold or flu medicines and Tylenol at the same time. Many of these medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Read the labels to make sure that you are not giving your child more than the recommended dose. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child seems very sick or is hard to wake up.

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child seems to be getting sicker.
  • The fever gets much higher.
  • There are new or worse symptoms along with the fever. These may include a cough, a rash, or ear pain.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • The fever hasn't gone down after 48 hours. Depending on your child's age and symptoms, your doctor may give you different instructions. Follow those instructions.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.