Emergency Department entrance
Hospital  >  Care Programs  >  Integrated Community Program  >  Emergency care  >  Emergency Department Discharge Instructions

Emergency Department Discharge Instructions

Fever in children



Emergency Care Discharge Instructions

Instruction summary

Fevers are very common in children. Children can get fevers from infections caused by viruses or bacteria that would not normally cause fevers in adults. If your child is generally healthy and not immunocompromised, he or she will usually be able to fight the infection without medication. Follow your instructions from the emergency physician about whether you need to visit your pediatrician or family doctor in the next few days.

You can help your child feel better by treating the fever with acetaminophen (which is the same thing as Tylenol) or ibuprofen (same thing as Advil or Motrin). If your child does not appear to be getting better an hour after giving one of these medications, you can try the other medication.

For example, if your child is not better one hour after taking ibuprofen, you can give your child acetaminophen. While it is very safe to try both, it is important to make sure that you give your child the right dose of each, according to their weight, as instructed on each box. Avoid using any over-the-counter cold medications at the same time: these medications often have several medicines in them, including acetaminophen or ibuprofen, so you could end up giving too much of one or the other if you add cold medications.

Try to keep your child hydrated as much as possible. You can use formula or breast milk if they are less than one year of age, or Pedialyte, flat ginger-ale, or water if they are over one year of age.

Do not worry if your child does not eat for a day or two. It is normal not to feel hungry when sick.

Reasons to return to the ER
  1. Dehydration. Signs of dehydration:
    • Producing fewer wet diapers or peeing less
    • A dry mouth with no visible spit bubbles
    • No tears made when crying
  1. Lethargy. Lethargy is an extreme form of tiredness when a child is only minimally responsive. An example of a lethargic child is a child who is lying still and does not make eye contact with you when you speak to them.

  2. High fever (≥40.0°C / 104.0°F)

  3. Persistent fever (≥38.0 °C or 100.4 °F for more than 3 days)