There is not a certain number that is dangerous for your child. Regardless of the degree of temperature, how your child is acting and the symptoms they have determines if you should worry. Normal temperatures can range from 97 – 99 degrees, so for many children a temperature of 99 is their normal body temperature. If your child has sudden vomiting, is not drinking, has had less urination than normal, or is lethargic, call our office immediately. If your child is playful, eating and drinking well, and keeping food down, continue to watch your child and let us know if new symptoms arise. If you have a baby 8 weeks or younger and they have a temperature of 100 degrees or higher, notify us immediately! Fever is an emergency in all infants 2 months or younger and has to be addressed immediately. If your child has had temperature every day for 5 days or more, notify your doctor. If at any time you are worried about how your child is doing, call our office.
2. What can I give my child if they have a fever?
The two main fever reducer medications are Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen (usual trade names are Tylenol and Motrin respectively). You can give doses of Tylenol every 4 hours and doses of Motrin every 6 hours, but it is easier to remember to alternate doses of these two medications every 3 hours. They are safe to give with most of the cough, congestion, and antibiotics your doctor will prescribe, but your doctor will tell you if you should not give your child Tylenol or Motrin.
Please do not give your child aspirin unless instructed by your doctor. Aspirin has been associated with causing persistent vomiting in children when given before and after viral illnesses.
For what dose your child should receive of Tylenol or Motrin, please refer to our common over the counter medications dosing chart on this website.
3. Should I give my child a pain reliever before receiving vaccines?
Almost all vaccines we give your child have the potential to cause a fever. Just the injection with a sterile needle causes fussiness and irritation. You may give your child a dose of Motrin or Tylenol just prior or after your child get their shots. This might help them tolerate the shots better or have less fussiness after the shots. You can always ask your doctor or your nurse for a dose of Tylenol or Motrin at the visit, but please come prepared because we may not always have extra Tylenol or Motrin in the office.
4. If my child is vomiting and/or has diarrhea should they come into the office?
The vast majority of the time, if your child has both vomiting and diarrhea, they have contracted a viral gastrointestinal infection that will run its course in time. It will usually last 2-4 days but can last up to 7 days. Usually the most serious complication is dehydration. If your child has vomiting, diarrhea, or both and is not drinking, having a normal amount of urine, or is too lethargic to eat and drink, notify us immediately. Your child will not eat their normal amount during these illnesses, and may still not have a good appetite for a few days after the vomiting or diarrhea has resolved. Do not worry if your child loses a little weight or will not take solid food, but focus on offering your child plenty of liquids and make sure they are drinking. You can have high fevers with either vomiting or diarrhea or both. If the vomiting or diarrhea lasts more than 7 days or if there are a lot of other symptoms, then notify your doctor.
5. Do I really have to finish giving my child their antibiotics if they are feeling better?
Yes. Your doctor has prescribed the amount of antibiotics to adequately fight off the infection they have. Most of the time, if you stop using antibiotics before the prescribed time, the infection has a good chance of returning and your child will become sick again. Almost all antibiotics can cause diarrhea or a slight rash, but if your child is having any trouble taking their medicine, please notify our office.
6. Can I save unused antibiotics for the next time my child is sick?
No. Many times, by the time your child is sick again the previous medicine has lost much if not all of its potency. Antibiotics quickly lose their effectiveness over time. Also when you have just a small amount of antibiotics, it can do more harm than good. You may not have enough to kill the infection, but may set up a condition for bacterial resistance to the antibiotic you have given. The dose your child previously received may not be an adequate dose now. Also the antibiotic you want to give may not be the right one for your child’s infection. Please consult your doctor before giving your child any antibiotics.
7. Why do I get an antibiotic at some sick visits and not at others? Also, why does my child need to be seen when I know they need an antibiotic?
Your pediatrician will determine if your child has a bacterial or viral infection after a careful examination. If your child has a viral infection, antibiotics will not help and your child will be getting all the side effects of the antibiotics without any of the benefits.
Currently, antibiotic resistance from some common bacteria is on the rise. One way to combat this is for your doctor to only dispense antibiotics when they are medically necessary. If your doctor does not give your child an antibiotic, it is because they believe antibiotics will do more harm than good. If you are ever unsure why you did or did not receive a prescription for antibiotics, please talk with your doctor at the end of the visit.
Your doctor needs to see your child before antibiotics are given. This way, they can keep tract of how many infections of a certain type your child has had (e.g. pneumonias, ear or sinus infections). Also it helps your doctor know which antibiotics worked, how long your child required antibiotics, and if there was any adverse reaction to the medications.
Also your child many have may ominous symptoms (thick green nasal drainage, ear pain, persistent cough) but have no signs of bacterial infection on a physical exam, your child might have a viral infection and antibiotics will do no good. Because of this, we do not like phoning in antibiotics or dispensing them without examining your child first.
8. When my child is congested what should I do?
If your child is 2 years or older there are many over the counter products that you can give your child. If your child is younger than 2 years old, please call our office or email us with questions about congestion and cold medication.
If your child attends daycare, they may have more days with congestion than without. If you find that your child has many symptoms along with their congestion, and you suspect they have more than a common cold, please consult with your doctor.
9. How do I know if my child has just a common cold or something more serious?
The average child in America will suffer from 6-8 colds a year and can spend as much as 30% of the year with cold symptoms. If your child attends daycare, they will usually contract more colds than the child that stays at home. With the common cold, your child can have up to 7-10 days of runny or congested nose, coughing, and fever that can reach as high as 104 degrees. They will usually not have as good an appetite as when they are healthy.
If at any point, your child refuses to drink anything, has less amount of urination than normal, becomes lethargic or vomits repeatedly, please let your doctor know. These are all signs of more serious infections and your child will need to be seen by your doctor.
It can get very confusing on when cough and congestion will run its course on its own, or if it will become a pneumonia, sinus infection, or something more serious. If you’re ever in doubt, talk to you doctor.
10. When should I schedule well child exams?
If your child is an infant they should be seen at:
18 months (if recommended by your pediatrician)
Huntsville Pediatric Associates recommends your child be seen every year from 2 years until they are 6 years old. If your child is involved in sports they need a physical every year. Talk with your doctor about when your child needs a checkup when they are older.
These visits are usually scheduled shortly after your child’s birthday. This gives your doctor a good idea if your child is developing appropriately and you can discuss what changes they will undergo in the upcoming year.
If your child has a chronic condition (e.g. asthma, diabetes, ADHD) your doctor will need to see them more than once a year. The frequency of the visits will be determined by how well controlled your child’s condition is.
Sometimes it is better to schedule your child’s physical during the summer, when they are out of school and when doctors’ schedules are not as full. Talk with your doctor any time you are in clinic about when your child needs a physical.
11. What should I do if my child is sick at night or on the weekends?
At Huntsville Pediatrics, our staff, nurses, and doctors work every day of the year including weekend and holidays to provide the best care for your children. If your child is sick at night and you feel they need to be seen in clinic the next morning, call our clinic at 256-265-2464 and make them an appointment. If it is Saturday or Sunday, please call between 7:00am and 10:00am as we try to see only emergency visits on these days. If your child is very sick at night and can not wait until the morning, go to the pediatric emergency room. We have our call nurses and doctors taking phone calls at night, so if you are worried about your child or have questions please call.
12. Why are vaccines so important?
Through recent advances in vaccines, doctors have been able to almost completely wipe out certain diseases which, in the past, had lifelong effects. The vaccines we have now will ensure that your child will be much healthier later in life. The benefits of avoiding these diseases greatly outweigh the side effects. All of the vaccines we give your child are safe with minimal side effects such as low grade fever or fussiness. All of the doctors and nurses who dispense our vaccines have given them to their own children.
You may hear a lot of wild rumors or myths about vaccines. If you have questions or concerns about your child’s vaccines, please discuss them with your doctor. We at Huntsville Pediatrics feel very strongly that withholding vaccines from your child puts them at unnecessary risk and is grossly negligent.