Hylton I Lightman MD DCH(SA) FAAP
Sorry, parents, but too many of you are misinformed about fevers. You think a fever will hurt your child. You lose sleep over it. This is called FOF – Fear of Fever. I’m here, with over 45 years’ experience as a pediatrician, father and grandfather, to give you FACTS about fevers.
Mom or Dad calls – My child is warm so he has a fever.
A penny for every time my team and I have heard that one.
Kids can be warm for many reasons. Daniel may have just gotten out of a warm bed. Or Rosie has been running around the house. They are giving off “warmth vibes” which usually subside within 20 minutes.
If you think your child has a fever, then take his/her temperature (before calling the doctor). Rectal temperatures are the most accurate, followed by forehead temperatures. Oral and ear temperatures can be accurate provided they are done correctly. Armpit temperatures may be convenient but they are the least accurate.
Let’s for the moment focus on kids over 2 months of age and fevers.
In many instances, fever can be your child’s friend. How? All children eventually get fevers and fevers actually kickstart the body’s immune system, putting it into gear to fight infection. In other words, the fever is a sign that the body is fighting infection, just as HaShem created it to do.
It is normal that fevers with viral infections can last 3-4 days. A low-grade fever is about 100-102 degrees. Tylenol and Motrin are okay to use to make your child more comfortable. Avail yourselves of our specially designed, user-friendly downloadable and printable Tylenol/Motrin dosaging chart.
Remember that when the fever medicine wears off, the fever will likely return. Don’t panic. You may treat the fever again. It’s not unusual for a fever to last 3-4 days before it breaks.
What if the number of the temperature is high? That’s scary. But fear not. Rather than going by the number, see how your child looks and acts. Your parental intuition will guide you.
Keeping your child hydrated is important when fighting a fever.
Sometimes, children between 3 months old to 5 years old have seizures when they have a fever. These are called “febrile convulsions.” Healthchildren.org describes that when this happens, a child may get an odd look on their face for a few moments, then stiffen or twitch, roll their eyes, and become unresponsive for a short time. Febrile convulsions typically last less than a minute—or even just a few seconds–though it can seem forever to a frightened parent. Thankfully, they are not common and almost always are harmless, causing no lasting damage to the brain or nervous system. However, if your baby has a febrile convulsion, be sure to tell your pediatrician promptly.
Fevers in babies under 2 months of age requires immediate medical attention. Even if the baby does not appear ill, reach out to your pediatrician after you’ve determined that the baby has a fever of 100.4 or more. S/he will guide you through the next steps.
Remember, that the majority of fevers are innocuous and are actually your child’s friends and not foes. You should feel comfortable reaching out to your pediatrician with questions and ask for direction.
As always, daven.