There is little worse then hearing your child wake up in the middle of the night, crying. When you go to them and pick them up for comfort you realize they feel as hot as an oven and it’s obvious your little babe is sick. You take their temperature — and there it is, your child has a fever.
Fevers are often feel like a big threat to parents, many rush for the Tylenol and the phone to make a call into their doctor or their first reaction is to take them to the emergency room. Understandably we get nervous and anxious when our child is not feeling well. What some parents don’t realize is not all fevers are bad. There are 4 key things to know about if your child spikes a fever (for a child over 3-years-old):
A fever is a natural body response used to fight infection
Many parents believe that a fever is something that we need to fight, that it’s important to get the temperature down and then babe will be better. That’s simply not true. The body will send out signals at sign of infection to raise body temperatures — it does this to fight the infection because there are many that can not survive at extreme body temperatures. By quickly lowering the fever in a child, you rid their immune system from their fighting tool against the bacteria/virus.
A high fever is different depending on age and the way you took the temperature
What is considered to be a ‘fever’ in an adult and child varies as does the method of taking their temperature. A temperature is considered a fever if it reaches 100.4F (38 C) when taken orally or rectally; if taken in the underarm or mouth it’s considered a fever when it’s a bit under that.
Not all fevers need to be treated
The rule really is “treat the child, not the fever”. What this means is that if your child has a fever but is acting fine, then there is no need to give them medication. If your child is acting miserable, complaining of big aches or being sore that’s when it becomes beneficial to bring down the fever. Temperatures of 102F and lower don’t typically need to be treated. Temperatures at 105+F for over an hour after being given fever-reducing medication (like tylenol or ibuprofen) should likely be seen by a doctor or warrants a call.
Signs are usually a better indicator of overall health and danger
If your child is not acting like themselves, that is a better indication of how they are actually feeling. If your child has chills, complains of being achy or has pain, giving medication to reduce their fever can help them rest. If your child is still interested in playing, eating and drinking okay, alert and smiling at you, and looks well when their temperature comes down, there is likely nothing to worry about. If your child has a fever for 3 days — it’s best to have them looked at by a doctor.
** Of course, if your “parent instinct” is telling you that something isn’t right — that feeling overrides anything anyone else tells you or you read. Always trust your gut and if you think your child needs to be seen, calling your doctor is likely the best idea. **Share This Post: Tweet