29 answers

When Do You Take Child to the Hospital?

My son is 19 months old. He has had a temperature for the last few days, hitting over 102 early this morning. TOok him to the pediatrician who said it is a virus, just give him motrin every 6 hours. Just took his temp again (6:30pm) and it was 103.8. At what point do I take him to the hospital? He has never had a temp this high and has only been sick twice before.

3 moms found this helpful

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So What Happened?™

Thank you all for your great advice....Ryan's temp broke during the night. I will remember all of your advice just in case I am in this situation again.

Featured Answers

I'm a first time mom of a 13 month old, but I think after several days of fever and now hitting 103.8 I would probably bring him. My doctor has told me that if a baby is eating and drinking (especially drinking) than at least the fever won't dehydrate him/her. I would especially bring him if he isn't taking fluids and/or seems especially lethargic. Good luck!!

If it is viral there is nothing that the hospital can give you anyway. My ped office always tells me to give both tylenol (every 4 hrs) and motrin (every 6 hrs). I would give tylenol on the even hrs and motrin on the odd. And write on a piece of paper what times so you don't get confused. Also, you can run him a cool bath to help bring down the fever.

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Take him NOW! Let them decide and don't wait. Anything over 102 can cause seizures.

Young children tend to run high temps so I would not be
too concerned about that. That being said, if he is
having problems breathing or in obvious pain that would
warrant a trip to the ER. Just keep in touch with your
pediatician if you are uneasy about things.

IMO 104.00 is high and I'd definitley be calling the on call pediatrician at the very least to let them tell me what to do. The biggest concern is making sure you get fluids in your son so he doesn't get dehydrated with that temp. When it goes high, lighten up his clothin and blankets. You can put him in a cool bath to help bring down the fever or use a cold washcloth on his head. Try fluids first though - you don't want dehyrdation b/c that is dangerous! I've called our on-call pediatrician at all hours of the night and it is very helpful and comforting but Also, my theory is when in doubt take him to the ER - and thats a judgement call based on symptoms but better safe than sorry!

Update us!!!! I hope he is feeling better!

Hi S.
Hope you have already done something for Ryan.
My rule of thumb always was, I take them to the MD, hospital, or to get help when I no longer knew what to do and there was a symptom that was different, and if I had seen the MD a symptom he had not told me was going to happen. It is always better to hear them say "you didn't need to bring him" than "you should have brought him sooner, there is nothing I can do now"
In your particular case, I probably would start by calling the office to see what MD wanted me to do with the new much higher fever. Actually, our ped was available 24/7 and I called him at home three times, and I talked to him personally all three. People tell me that his wife didn't let calls through but I simply told her what was up.
I won't belabor, at least call and see if they are seeing virus fevers that high.
God bless you and give you peace.
K. SAHM married 39 years -- adult children 38,33,&twins 19

Dear S., I can surely see your concern. As a mom of 5 and now 3 grands I can say that the hospital is not a good experience. Temperature goes up to burn out the virus. It is the body's natural way of fighting illness. Yes give your baby motrin. Keep him cool as possible, maybe wet washcloth on his forehead. You can even put him a room temp. bath. Give him liquids, water, juice etc. Keep an eye on fever, if it goes higher than 104 call doctor again. Hopefully it will run its course quickly. Hug him, love him.... my best, Grandma Mary

Personally, I would have already been there....I wouldnt wait a few days. go now mamma

I would call the E/R before bringing him because my daughter had a fever that went as high as 105.1 when she had an ear infection & it didn't seem to be the end of the world w/the dr's. To me it certainly was, but it all depends on the age of the child as to what they consider a dangerous fever.

It is truly about how much faith you have in the your pediatrician - there have been times that I have taken either of my girls to the hospital b/c it all comes down to a judgement call and if I choose to go against their beliefs, that is my choice as their mom. There have been many times that I've walked out of there feeling bad for even bothering, but on the other hand there have been times that it turned out to be more then what was originally thought. Hope this helps a little.

all the suggestions i have read sound really good. the only thing different i would do is call the er if you can't reach your doctor. my daughter ran a high grade fever and it would not be broken, it was in the winter. so i called the er. they told me what to do, i did it, fever still would not be broken. my doc happened to be on duty that night. finally he said bring her in, we got out in the cold her fever broke, but, when we got there he used her for the interns he had there. she had a double ear infection and throat infection. He stated she has an ear infection, so you will not see a throat infection and then said, oh my, you better look at this, because it is rare. well anyway she needed and antibiotic and she was fine, but sometimes the fever is a sign of an infection, or cutting teeth. your son is at the age of these situations, however the er will be aware of any viruses or flus going around. it is better to call, because if they have an epidemic on thier hands, you don't want to subject your son to exposure to something else. Hope he is feeling better now.

I'm sure you'll get a million responses. I would have to say a much higher fever, I have had 1 daughter who at 4 months old had 105.5 degrees, I had the MD paged in the middle of the night he talked me through how to reduce her fever safely, which was all the hospital would have done anyhow. I'd also have to say a higher fever with bad vomiting or diarrhea or when the baby is having a seizure.

Have you called and asked them this question? I used to bring an index card with me during well visits and ask a question each time. Then again that was a very long time ago..my children are 17 and 14 now.

I'm a first time mom of a 13 month old, but I think after several days of fever and now hitting 103.8 I would probably bring him. My doctor has told me that if a baby is eating and drinking (especially drinking) than at least the fever won't dehydrate him/her. I would especially bring him if he isn't taking fluids and/or seems especially lethargic. Good luck!!

Bring him to your doctor today. I don't think a phone call will get the message across. Our ped is not a fan of the ER with sick children- takes a really long time and it's scary not to mention germ-infested, but it's not worth risking a possible febrile seizure.

Ms. M. if i were you i would take him to the Emergency Room generally if a fever is exisiting and motrin is not helping the body is trying to fight off something better be safe than sorry. Take your child to the ER, especially with such a high temperature. Good Luck, i hope your son feels better soon.

we took our son to the ER in the night last year when fever was 104 because he had a febrile seizure once and i was scared. all they really did was motrin/tylenol every 3 hours until fever came down. i have no problem using the ER for my kid....

Fever over 103 can cause seizures and so most dr's reccomend motrin or tylenol (never aspirin as that can cause Rays syndrome in children). You may only need a dr to say if it's either an ear or throat infection in which case there's medicine for that. I would never ignore a fever over 102 but would seek medical advice.

try tylenol then follow up with motrin in 3 hours.. this usually does the trick. you bring them to the hospital if they are very lethargic.... and fever is over 104.. good luck

My ped said that a child can sustain a fever of up to 106, however, you can do tepid baths and tylenol/motrin every 4/6 hours respectively. Take to the hospital when he is not taking fluids or having wet diapers and/or showing other signs of dehydration such as lethargy or not producing saliva or tears.

If it is viral there is nothing that the hospital can give you anyway. My ped office always tells me to give both tylenol (every 4 hrs) and motrin (every 6 hrs). I would give tylenol on the even hrs and motrin on the odd. And write on a piece of paper what times so you don't get confused. Also, you can run him a cool bath to help bring down the fever.

Hi S.,

If motrin is not working for him, and his fever is still going up, take him to the er right away!!

I have 4 children; 18 yo-girl, 16 yo-girl, 8 yo-boy, and almost 3 yo girl.

I have had my kids to the er many times, but fortunately, not for uncontrollable high fevers - but once. When my oldest started head start (1995), she brought home something that hit her pretty hard - her first real illness. She couldn't breathe without being propped up with pillows, couldn't lay flat, had a fever of 102 and vomited up her tylenol. I took her to er at 1:30 am. They had her sit up to sleep, gave her motrin for fever -she kept it down, and gave her oxygen mask to help her breathe. They said I could take her home -after an hour, but her fever wasn't responding to motrin, so I wouldn't leave! It took a 2nd dose -which they gave 2 hours after the 1st, before her temp started to come down. When she was breathing better and was able to lay flat without problem, I took her home!

If you are not happy with the results of the doctors, ask another one. Same with hospitals - if they are not helping, dont leave until you see changes!

If he's on meds with this temperature, get him to the doctor now. If this is a straight temperature without fever reducers call your doctor or the ER before taking him in.

You have to know your child... My twins run very high fevers and still play and seem happy! They can have 104 with an ear infection and are still smiling... For them, they don't start acting lethargically until 105. If your child has a fever, the things you need to look for are unresponsiveness, dehydration, seizures, etc... Usually, our pediatrician would have us come in if the fever didn't break after a day or two.
It can be extremely scary to see your child with a high fever. But remember that when you take your child to the E.R., you're exposing him to even worse illnesses (especially with swine flu going around). Keep in close touch with your pediatrician and don't be embarrassed to call him or her with your concerns.

Hi S.,
I'm sorry your little guy is so sick! While it's scary to see your toddler's fever going up, that's really not an excessive fever for a young child and it is his body's way of fighting the virus. Unless he has a seizure, trouble breathing or is clearly dehydrated, there is nothing that the hospital will do for him, and your own doctor should be your point of contact. Kids really don't normally need to go to the hospital for treatment of typical illnesses - they'll just give him something like motrin or tylenol which you can give him at home, charge you a lot for it (and your insurance may deny charges if you don't clear an ER visit with your doctor first) and expose him to a lot of illnesses/bacteria - the hospital ER is full of sick people.
Good luck and I hope he is doing better soon.

Children's temperatures can naturally go higher than adults but when my son's temperature went above 104 (it was 104.5) I took him to the ER. They ran all sorts of tests and took blood - his temp came down with medication and they sent him home telling me the same thing the pediatrician told me - but I had a peace of mind that everything was check. Go with you gut - if you are really worried take him if it is over 104. What they tell you is that if the fever comes down with medicine that is really important - if the fever is not reacting to medicine and lowering then get him checked. My son's fever would get high but then come down - in order to keep it down I alternated children's motrin and children's tylenol - this way he was not waiting as long in between doses. Good luck.

I'd take him now.


By the way, your son and I share a birthday and your son and my son share the same first name! But anyway, it probably is just a virus. Viruses run worse fevers than anything bacterial. You should only take him to the doctor or ER if he was dehydrated, not taking fluids anymore, or just kinda out of the ordinary lethargic. He will be tired, don't get me wrong, but you will know the difference. You can also alternate the motrin and tylenol to keep the fever down. Both are given every six hours but you can keep a constant flow of medicine every 3 hours. So say you gave him motrin at 9am, then he can have tylenol at 12pm, then motrin again at 3pm etc.... If he ends up with a rash all over (but mostly on the trunk area) then he probably had roseola. My son had a it few months ago. Just a fever with rash and nothing to worry about. Funny once you notice the rash of Roseola the worst is already gone. If the fever last for another 2 days then I would bring him back to the doctor though. Make sure you keep him well hydrated and don't worry if he's not eating too much. Fluids are very important. Good luck and I hope he feels better soon!

Hi S.,

I always went with my gut and not always what the doctors office advised. If you feel your child is not getting better then do what will put your mind at ease. This way you have no regrets. Especially with all of these dangerous viruses out there now. I just heard of a case of swine flu that turned out poorly because when the mom called the doctor about the fever the office nurse told her to wait it out at home so she wouldn't infect the other children. After two days of raging fever she was diagnosed with swine flu and was critically ill. I know doctors offices do this so many times I send children home from my daycare with fevers and the mom's will tell me the doctor won't see them right away because the fever is not high enough. This mom is regretting not bring her child anyway. With so many dangerous viruses I say get it checked it out and put your mind at ease. As many posters said things can develop overnight, ear infections, throat infections etc. I was always the neurotic mother who ran to the doctor and I didn't care what they said I wanted my child to be seen. Sometimes I would end up back twice in one week if they weren't improving. At six months old my daughter almost dehydrated because of a stomach bug. The doctor kept telling me with daily phone calls that as long as her diapers were wet she was okay. Not true. After day 6 of calling I took her to a different doctor because I was frantic and she was so lethargic. She was dehydrating and the doctor treated her and by that afternoon she was on her way to recovery. Thank god I went somewhere else. Doctors are not God's we have to be our child's advocate so do what makes you feel better and what is best for your child. Good luck I hope he feels better soon.

Keep calling your doctor with updates - they'll tell you when to go. Our doctor advised us to go once when my son's temp hit 104.8. Good luck!

The other poster was right. Isnt much that can be done for a virus.
Of course, at first sign of dehydration, get to the hospital.
Hope your little guy feels better soon.

Hi S.,
AT 103.8 I would put him a cool bath right away soak him down to get that temperature down do like the other moms suggested tylenol and motrin alternating I also give my children ice pops with a high fever gatorade juice any kinds of fluids make sure he is drinking and urinating If fever persists at almost 104 and your gut instinct is hospital than do it. I did that with my first son his fever was high and it is sooo scary but they did not do anything different than what you are doing at home, it just made me feel better in case something did go wrong. I hope he gets better soon usually the virus just has to run its course.

Hmmm...did you call the doctor again? Trust your instincts.
Last December my son had a high fever, they told me the same, it was a virus, etc.. The next day it was 103. I brought him in again. It just didn't seem right that he was getting all of this "fever reducer" and the fever wasn't going away. The 2nd doctor we saw (there are four in the group) checked him out and said it was pneumonia. The x-ray confirmed it.
In the spring, he had a fever that wouldn't go away, I took him to the doctor three times that week. I thought they probably thought I was crazy but he wound up having a double ear infection.
I am not saying that your baby has either of these. I am just saying it is your right and your child's to get a second opinion if you feel it's needed. Every baby is different. A high fever very well might be a virus in your son and something else in someone else.
Good luck!

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