The Dangers of a High Fever for Your Child

The average child will get sick upwards of 12 times in their first year of daycare. While these are normally common colds, children can also experience fevers, pink eye, and stomach bugs.

If your child is starting to display fever symptoms, you may begin to worry. And this is completely normal!

Although fevers are usually nothing serious, they can be dangerous in certain circumstances.

Do you want to know more? Keep reading to learn about fevers, including what causes them and when you should call the doctor.

What Causes a Fever?

When your child feels warm to the touch, you’ll probably wonder how they got a fever in the first place. While there are several ways your child could have gotten sick, below are the three most common causes.


Infections are, by far, the most common cause of fever in both children and adults. A fever is your body’s natural response to fight off this infection.

Colds and gastroenteritis are the most common infections that can result in a fever, although ear, lung, bladder, kidney, throat, and skin infections can also be to blame.

Most kids and adults will become infected after touching an infected surface, such as a doorknob or a toy, or after being sneezed or coughed on by an infected person.


Vaccines are vital to protect against serious diseases. However, it is common for a child to experience a low-grade fever after being vaccinated.

This will usually appear within the first 24 hours after getting immunized and will only last 1-2 days. While fevers due to vaccines are usually low-grade, some children may experience a high-grade fever.

Heat Illness

While children (and adults) of all ages can experience heat illness, infants and newborns are at a higher risk because they can’t regulate their body temperature as well as adults and older children can.

If your infant or child was over bundled or exposed to a hot environment for too long, they could develop heat exhaustion or even heat stroke. In fact, 36 children die every year due to heat-related illnesses from being trapped in a hot car.

Those suffering from heat stroke will have a high-grade fever, while some suffering from heat exhaustion will have a low-grade fever. However, many children with heat exhaustion will not show a fever at all.

Dangers Associated with High Fevers

Most of the time, fever comes and goes without any additional problems. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t anything to worry about. Below are some dangers associated with high fevers.


Young children, usually between 6 months and 5 years old, may experience a fever-induced seizure. They will typically lose consciousness and start shaking.

If your child starts seizing, be sure to lay them on the floor either on their side or stomach. Remove any sharp objects near your child and hold them to prevent injury.

While most seizures will stop on their own within a few minutes and cause no lasting damage, it’s still important to call your doctor right away. If seizing lasts more than 5 minutes, call 911.

Life-Threatening Infection

As mentioned above, infection is the most common cause of a fever. Most of the time, the body is able to fight this off on its own.

Although rare, a common infection could potentially be life-threatening, especially in infants 3 months or younger.

When to See a Doctor

So, how can you tell if your child’s fever will pass quickly or if it could turn dangerous? Well, it can be hard to tell. But if your child is experiencing any of the symptoms below, it’s best to call your pediatrician or doctor right away.

They Have a High Fever

High-grade fevers can be more dangerous than low-grade fevers. But what constitutes as a high-grade fever is based off age.

For infants 3 months and younger, a rectal temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit can be potentially life-threatening, so be sure to see the doctor as soon as possible.

For those 3 months and older, a high-grade fever is considered 102 degrees Fahrenheit.

Their Fever Is Long-Lasting

Many fevers, especially those due to vaccines, are gone within a couple of days. However, if your child’s fever persists for 3 days or more, you shouldn’t wait any longer before calling a doctor.

They Have Other Symptoms Too

Fevers aren’t usually the only symptom your child has when they’re sick. They may also experience fatigue, a sore throat, and vomiting. If these symptoms persist for 3 days with or without a fever, you should consider calling the doctor.

More serious symptoms can also appear, such as:

If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, call your pediatrician or doctor immediately.

They Have a Weakened Immune System

While most children can fight off an infection like the common cold, others cannot. If your child has a weakened immune system or any other medical problem, don’t hesitate to call your doctor at the first sign of illness.

You Have Any Questions

As we’ve discussed above, there are some serious dangers associated with fevers. So, if you have any questions or concerns about your child’s health, be sure to call your doctor.

This is especially true if you are a new parent dealing with a fever for the first time. Your doctor can give you valuable advice on how you can help your child get better quickly.

If your older child is sick and you have an infant or immunocompromised child in the house, you may also want to ask your doctor how you can prevent the infection from spreading to your other child or what early signs to look out for in the event they do get sick.

Your Fever Symptoms Guide

While most fevers are harmless, some can become dangerous. Follow the guide above to learn about fever symptoms and the potential dangers associated with them.

Are you worried about your child’s fever? Then contact us today to make an appointment with a trusted and experienced pediatrician in Brooklyn, New York.

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