It never fails. You left your child with your daycare provider or sent them off to school in perfectly fine health and low and behold, you come home to a tired, cranky, feverish child with a cough. You immediately are concerned and wonder what course of action to take…wait it out since the pediatrician is closed for the day, or is this a serious condition that needs medical attention immediately.  Do you know what to do as soon as you notice a high fever or a severe cough?

Experienced parents may tend to lean towards waiting it out, however, there are a few things you should keep in mind when you have a child with a high fever and cough.  

Here are some thoughts to help you handle the situation when it arises. 

With children and fever pediatricians typically break children up into three groups: 2 months and under, 2 months to 6 months, and 6 months and above. If you choose to see your pediatrician or urgent care provider: 

  •    The grouping allows physicians to diagnose children in a specific category based upon age, which in turn will help them focus on the number of vaccinations the child has received. Older children typically have enough protection against the Strep and H Flu and the younger ones are at an increased risk of contracting these bacterial illnesses. 
  •    For this reason, if your child is 2 months and under with a rectal temperature of 100.4 or greater, the baby automatically gets a comprehensive work-up and may even spend the next two days in the hospital for observation. 
  •    For children 2 to 6 months, the child will receive the same initial medical evaluation; however, if the lab results are normal, the child can stay home with close follow-up with their pediatrician in the morning. 
  •    For children who are 6 months and above, the work-up will depend on the child’s symptoms and how sick he/she appears. Don’t be surprised if your doctor does a complete physical exam, feels that a virus causes the fever, and sends you home with no antibiotics. This is standard — and good practice — because it decreases the chances of allergies, diarrhea, and antibiotic resistance in your child. 

High Fever 

Most of us know there is no cause for alarm with a relatively low-grade fever, but what if your child’s fever reaches temperatures in excess of 104 degrees? 

  • A relatively high fever in a small child is not harmful. A rising body temperature is actually a good sign, because raising the body’s temperature is its method of fighting off infections.  
  • In the US, we typically advise taking Tylenol or Motrin, which will knock down the fever and keep children and parents comfortable and happy. 
  • When determining the proper dose of Motrin, be sure to administer the dose base on your child’s weight as opposed to their age. It is easy to under-dose the medication based upon age alone. It’s important that administering a lower dose than recommended, even by a little, will render the entire dose ineffective. 


Children with a cough generally have a fever to accompany it. It is frequently part of the viral symptoms, but it can also be a sign of pneumonia. 

It can be difficult to tell the difference between to two, so keep a few things in mind when observing a child with a cough. 

  • Does the child look good? Is their skin color normal? If not, you should seek medical attention. 
  • How is your child breathing?  Is there any wheezing present? If so, your child could have pneumonia. 
  • How long has the fever and cough lasted, more than 3 days? If so, you may have a more serious underlying condition, such as pneumonia.  

If your child is experiencing a cough as a symptom related to a virus, there is really no medication that will eliminate the child’s cough for children under 6. In fact, the FDA advises not to treat a cough with medicine in children under 6 due to their ineffectiveness and possible adverse outcomes. 

While there are no great or quick ways to alleviate your child’s cough, you can put a vaporizer in the child’s room, especially in the cold, dry winter months. This will help loosen any congestion that has built up in your little one’s lungs.  

Whether you choose to opt for immediate attention or wait it out until your pediatrician is available, you can have comfort knowing Our Urgent Care offers convenient, affordable solutions from 8 am – 8 pm, 7-days a week. No appointment necessary. For more information, or to find a location near you, please visit, or call (866) 252-0599.

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