Fevers occur commonly during childhood. Most are due to the body’s defense against minor infections and resolve without consequence. However, fevers that reach high temperatures or last for more than three days are more likely due to a serious illness. High fevers that last for five days warrant an evaluation by a health care provider.
What is a high fever in healthy children?
The age of a child is an important factor for determining if a fever is high. Although there is not one definition for high fever, here are some guidelines for when to consult a health care provider:
What causes high fevers in children?
• Non-infectious causes of fever include autoimmune disorders (such as:
Warnings and Precautions
Regardless of how high a child’s fever is, if other concerning symptoms are present, promptly seek medical care. Examples of alarming symptoms include: • Difficulty breathing, • Stiff neck, • Unable to see, hear or speak, • New rash, • Lethargy, • Persistent crying or pain, or • Child isn’t him/herself
In addition, if parents are concerned for any reason, they should consult with their health care provider.
For children and teens, illnesses that cause fevers are usually self-limited and not associated with high fevers or fevers that last longer than 3 days. If your child has a high fever or a fever that last longer than 5 days, consultation with your doctor is warranted.
- Patient Information: Fever in Children (Beyond the Basics.) Updated April 29, 2015
- HealthyChildren.org: Fever
- Berkowitz’s Pediatrics: A Primary Care Approach, 5th Edition; Carol D. Berkowitz, M.D.