My daughter recently spiked a high fever (104 F) and I have to admit, I kind of panicked. What temperature signifies an urgent call or visit to her doctor?

It's not unusual for a high fever to rattle even the calmest of parents. We worry about our kids and we want to make sure we are doing the right thing and this is a very common concern.

With fevers running rampant right now during cold and flu season, I like to remind parents about these fever facts:

  1. It's not the actual number on the thermometer that matters. What matters most is how your child is looking and feeling. Granted, once that fever starts climbing to 102 F and above, they will likely feel pretty crummy. Give them a fever reducer and see if they perk up. Otherwise, fever alone is no reason to worry. It's actually a good thing, helping your child fight off an infection.
  2. One exception to this rule: infants 4 months and younger. In this case, any fever (100.4 F or higher) is reason toseek medical care.
  3. Our bodies have built-in thermostats that prevent our body temperatures from rising above 106 F due to fever.
  4. It's not unusual for the fever to wax and wane the first few days of illness; the goal of treating with a fever reducer is to make your child feel better, not normalize her temperature.

With these fever facts in mind, remember to keep the big picture in mind when your child's temperature spikes.


Medical Pro, Melissa Arca

Melissa Arca, M.D. is a board certified pediatrician, mom of two, writer, and blogger who has found her passion in writing and speaking about parenting and children's health. She realizes that parenting is not an exact science and offers her practical tips on handling common parenting dilemmas. In addition, she loves educating parents and children about their health and ways to improve it.

She authors a weekly Dr.Mom column in The Sacramento Bee and appears weekly on KCRA with Dr.Mom tips on a variety of pediatric health topics. Her blog, Confessions of a Dr.Mom, is truly the place where doctor and mom collide.

Dr.Arca received her undergraduate degree from UC Irvine and went on to obtain her medical degree from USC Keck School of Medicine. She completed her pediatric residency in 2003 from Children's Hospital Los Angeles and is a member of the AAP Council on Communication and Media.

She lives in Northern California with her husband and children, ages 4 and 6. They visit the ocean any free chance they get.