your child’s temperature was 100.3 degrees, would you consider that a fever?
Would you wake him or her to administer an anti-fever medication? If you
answered yes to both questions, you have a lot of company. You are also wrong.
study published in the March issue of the Journal Pediatrics found
that roughly half of all parents erroneously believe a body temperature of less
than 100.4 degrees is a fever and about 85 percent say they would wake a
sleeping child to give medication to lower his temperature. Another one-quarter
said they would give OTC anti-fever medicines to kids with temperatures below
only does the study suggest that Dr. Mom and Dr. Dad overreact when they think
their kids have a fever, but a frightening 50 percent of parents give the wrong
dose of medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen for their child’s weight, which
could result in excessive doses that might be harmful. Instead, parents should
focus more on their child’s comfort than solely the thermometer reading.
it’s alarming when your little one has a fever—I’ll never forget how frightened
I was when one of my daughters spiked a temperature of 105 degrees—most of the
time fever is not serious. After all, a fever is the body’s natural way of battling
infections. When viruses or bacteria attack, white blood cells come to rescue
by producing interleukin, a hormone that raises body temperature. In effect,
the heat helps kill germs that are making your child sick.
what you should know about treating a child’s fever.
to take a temperature:
pediatricians consider a rectal temperature to be the gold standard in accuracy
in kids, while armpit temperatures and pacifier thermometers are the least
reliable. Body temperature varies according to time of day and is lowest in the
morning and early evening. To qualify as a fever, the rectal thermometer
reading must be 100.4 or above.
medical help if a baby younger than three months has a rectal temperature of
104.4 or higher, if there are no other symptoms, or if a baby this age has a temperature
below 97 F. In kids this young, even a mild fever or below normal temperature
may indicate a serious infection. Also alert the pediatrician if a baby older
than three months has a temperature of 102 or higher, if a child under two has
a fever for more than one day, or an older child has a fever for longer than
three days. Contact your MD about any symptom that concerns you, regardless of
what your child’s temperature is.
a fever without medication:
usually isn’t necessary for mild fevers. Dress your child in a light, single
layer of clothing when indoors and use minimal bedcovers. A sponge bath with
lukewarm water helps quell a fever. The main goal should be keeping your child
comfortable—not reducing the temperature to normal, the Pediatrics report emphasizes. Also make sure your child is well
hydrated. Fruit juice, popsicles, soup and Jello are all choices with
children’s versions of acetaminophen (Tylenol) or if your child is over six
months of age, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) according to instructions on the
package. Many parents don’t realize that dosing should be based on weight, not
age. Combining the two products can be more effective than using just one of
them. Consult the pediatrician before doing so, since correct dosing can be a
bit complicated. Without medical guidance, a combined dose may contribute to
unsafe use of these drugs, the report cautions.
not to do:
give kids aspirin, which has been linked to Reye’s syndrome, a potentially fatal
disorder. Avoid use of rubbing alcohol because it can be absorbed through the
skin. Do not give adult medications to kids even if you try to adjust the
dosage. Also avoid cold baths or ice to lower temperature. These cool the skin,
then causing shivering, which in turn boosts temperature. Nor is it necessary
to wake up kids to give anti-fever medications. Above all, don’t panic—even if
your child spikes a fever high enough to trigger a seizure (a relatively
infrequent problem), it’s still extremely unlikely to do any lasting harm. Most
kids bounce back from a fever in a day or two. With a healthy dose of TLC, your
child should soon be well again.