When your little ones are sick, you want to help them feel better as quickly as possible. Fevers often cause concern but there are a lot of myths about what fevers do and how they should be treated. Here are 7 things you should know about treating your child’s fever.
MYTH: All fevers are bad for children.
FACT: Fevers are actually one of the body’s protective mechanisms. They signal body’s immune system to fight infection.
Fevers between 100°F and 104°F (38°C to 40°C) are good for sick children and help the body fight infection. Babies under 3 months are the exception and should be taken to see a healthcare provider immediately.
MYTH: If my child feels warm, she has a fever.
FACT: Children might feel warm for a variety of reasons such as playing hard, crying, getting out of a warm bed or being outside on a hot day. They are cooling down and the temperature of their skin should return to normal in 10 to 20 minutes.
If you’ve excluded these reasons and your child still feels warm, they might have a fever. Take their temperature to be sure.
Dr. Barton D. Schmitt in “My Child is Sick! Expert Advice for Managing Common Illnesses and Injuries” says the following are the cutoffs for having a fever using different types of thermometers:
1) Rectal, ear or temporal artery thermometers: 100.4°F or higher
2) Oral or pacifier thermometers: 100°F or higher
3) Axillary (armpit) thermometers: 99°F or higher
MYTH: High fevers can cause brain damage, especially fevers above 104°F.
FACT: Only body temperatures above 108°F can cause brain damage. A child’s body temperature only gets this high in extreme conditions such as being left inside a car in hot weather.
MYTH: A fever will grow unless it is treated.
FACT: Fever from infections usually top out at 103° or 104°F. They rarely go to 105° or 106°F. While the latter are “high” fevers, they are still harmless.
MYTH: The body temperature will go back to a normal if the fever is treated.
FACT: When a fever is treated, it usually comes down 2° or 3°. Remember, fever is your body’s natural way of fighting sickness.
MYTH: If I can “break the fever”, the infection will go away.
FACT: A fever will last until the body overcomes the virus, usually about 2 to 3 days. Even if you bring the fever down, the infection will not go away until the body has overcome the virus.
The source of this misconception is because when a fever goes away, the child is usually on the road to recovery. Making the fever go away earlier won’t make the infection go away.
MYTH: Oral temperatures between 98.7°F and 100°F are low-grade fevers.
FACT: The body’s temperature changes throughout the day and those temperatures are normal variations. An actual low-grade fever is 100°F to 102°F.
As always, if you are worried about your little one, it never hurts to have them seen by a doctor. America’s ER – Magnolia & Woodlands is open 24/7/365 and sees walk-in patients with little to no wait. Come see us off 2978 next to Target!
Adapted from Dr. Barton D. Schmitt’s My Child is Sick! Expert Advice for Managing Common Illnesses and Injuries, which is a great resource for parents with little ones.