Did you know that, in most cases, a fever alone does not harm your child … and can actually be beneficial? It’s true, and that’s why Willows Pediatrics wants to address the topic of “fever phobia” today!
Many parents and caregivers immediately rush to give their child acetaminophen or ibuprofen the minute they see their child’s temperature rise. That’s not always necessary or the best plan. “Fever is a physiological mechanism that has beneficial effects in fighting infection,” said a recent article in the AAP News. The article also notes that the degree of fever does not always correlate with the severity of illness, and that there is no evidence that fever alone, even high fever, causes any long-term complications. (The exceptions to this would be in children with certain underlying chronic diseases or conditions.)
Most importantly, “Fever, in and of itself, is not known to endanger a generally healthy child; in contrast, fever actually may be of benefit.”
The primary goal, then, when your child has a fever, is to address your child’s comfort, and not simply to bring down the body temperature. If your child is comfortable, there’s no real need to medicate a low or moderate fever. In addition, to make a child with a fever more comfortable, caregivers should make sure he or she is drinking fluids and also getting rest/sleep. Waking a child to administer a dose of a fever-reducer such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen is not advised.
If acetaminophen or ibuprofen are administered, it’s absolutely critical to be sure a safe does is being given. Surprisingly, up to half of caregivers administer incorrect doses of fever-reducing drugs to their children, with as many as 15 percent giving too much! Please be sure to know your child’s weight (not just age) and also to use a proper measuring device. (We have blogged before on the importance of properly measuring medications.) As with all drugs and medications, acetaminophen or ibuprofen should be used judiciously. Also, please see our news section for information on the release of infant acetaminophen with a new concentration. So, as cold and flu season approaches, we hope you and your families will stay healthy. However, if your child does have a fever and you are concerned, please do not hesitate to contact us for advice.