OBJECTIVE: to determine how to select a child who requires in depth laboratory investigation, defining the most appropriate laboratory screening tests, and to detect the individual who requires immediate therapy, when fever is the main symptom presented by the child seen in an outpatient clinic, or at the physician's office. Additionally, this review aims at providing suggestions on how to deal with fever, and with the anxiety it causes. SOURCES OF DATA: bibliographic review using Medline database and previously selected manuscripts. SUMMARY OF THE FINDINGS: fever may cause both negative and positive outcomes, none of major consequence. Age group, fever magnitude and duration, shivering, appetite decrease or behavioral changes (toxemia), and other localizing symptoms should be investigated through the patient's medical history. Laboratory screening tests should include complete blood count, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, C-reactive protein, urinalysis (white cells count and gram stain of the sediment), and in some cases, lumbar puncture and blood culture. The treatment should include antipyretic medications and, occasionally, physical methods (cool baths, sponging) in order to reduce discomfort caused by the fever. CONCLUSIONS: children with fever request both scientific expertise, as well as empathy from the pediatrician, so that they can receive individualized therapy.
fever; febrile diseases; fever of unknown origin; physician's office visits