How to Assess the Severity of Fever Symptoms

When your body senses an illness, your body temperature can increase. A higher body temperature than normal isn’t usually cause for alarm. However, it’s a good idea to learn how to assess an individual’s fever and to understand when emergency care is needed. At West Hills Hospital, you’ll find prompt and courteous assistance in our emergency care center.

Taking a Child’s Temperature

Only use digital, rather than mercury thermometers to take a child’s temperature. You can use a digital rectal thermometer for children from birth through three years. For rectal readings, 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit and higher indicates a fever. For children three months and older, you can use a temporal artery thermometer. An oral thermometer is appropriate for children four years and older. An oral reading of 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit and higher indicates a fever.

Taking an Adult’s Temperature

It’s fine to use an oral thermometer to take an adult’s temperature, although temporal artery thermometers may also be used. Adults are generally considered to have a fever when the temperature is above 99 degrees Fahrenheit.

Going to the Hospital

In most cases, home care is appropriate for a mild fever that isn’t associated with additional, severe symptoms. However, parents are advised to take children to the local hospital for any fevers in children younger than three months. A fever of 102.2 degrees in children ages three through 12 months warrants a hospital trip. Bring older children and adults to the hospital for a fever that persists longer than 48 to 72 hours or is accompanied by symptoms such as painful urination, stomach pain, or a new rash.

Knowing When to Call 911

Sometimes, a fever requires emergency care. Call 911 if your child has a fever and cannot be awakened, has a stiff neck and a bad headache, has a seizure, or appears confused. Other serious symptoms include blue lips, nails, or tongue, difficulty breathing, difficulty walking, refusal to move the limbs, and persistent crying.

If you or your child becomes ill in the West Hills area, the emergency care physicians at West Hills Hospital can provide rapid evaluations and treatment recommendations. Our new emergency care center consistently maintains ER wait times that are shorter than the national average. For emergency medical assistance, call 911 now. To speak with a registered nurse at our community hospital, call (818) 676-4321.