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Understanding fever

Fever is a symptom, not a disease. It represents the body’s normal response to infections and plays a role in fighting them. Fever turns on the body’s immune system.

The usual fevers (100°-104° F) that all children get are not harmful. Most are caused by viral illnesses and may last 3 to 5 days. Viral illnesses do not respond to antibiotics. Most office visits for fever will result in no specific treatment except watchful waiting. Your doctor will tell you what to expect and when they may want to recheck your child.

To learn more on how to take your child's temperature, and for information on dosing Tylenol, Motrin, or Benadryl when it is advised, download this handy Dosing and Fever Guide pdf.

Classification of fevers

  • Mild: 99°F - 101.5°F
  • Moderate: 101.6°F - 104.5°F
  • Significant: higher than 104.5°F

Use the online KidsDoc Symptom Checker

At home or out and about, KidsDoc can help you know what to do next. Simply hover over the portion of the body where your child is experiencing symptoms. Click on the section to display a list of symptoms and select the symptom from the list.

This symptom checker was developed with the American Academy of Pediatrics and is freely available to all parents at, or to buy as a smartphone app for Android phones, or for iPhone.