THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED ON MOMMYPOTAMUS.
I Like Math Just About As Much As The Next Mom
Counting baby toes, pennies and the number of times my son says “sooopooon” (spoon) in a day – all good stuff! But when it comes to my kids health, math rarely factors in. Why? Because I watch them, not the numbers. This is especially true with fevers.
I’m not alone, either. According to Dr. Hannah Chow-Johnson – pediatrician at Loyola University Health System and assistant professor of pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine – numbers may not be as significant as we tend to think.
“My most frequent calls are from worried parents who want to know how high is too high of a fever. What many parents don’t realize is that often, fevers are their child’s friend.
. . . . Fevers can actually help your child recover more quickly, especially if he or she is battling a viral illness . . . I often wish thermometers had a gauge that read either ‘fever’ or ‘no fever.’ That would definitely help parents who worry if their child has a fever that’s too high.”
“Seattle Mama Doc” On Fever Phobia
And then there’s Dr. Janice Sullivan, a professor of pediatric clinical care and clinical pharmacology at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, who told The Washington Post that “Fever is the body’s normal response to infection — it’s a natural defense mechanism.” She explains that a high temperature triggers the body’s production of infection-fighting white blood cells, which inhibits the growth of viruses and bacteria, and that “If you lower the fever, you may be affecting the body’s ability to respond to that infection.”
Can I just say that I LOVE these women?? Personally I’d avoid the use of fever reducers if possible – here is one of the many reasons why – but I am still **this** close to sending them a dozen orchids. Regarding when fevers may need the attention of a pediatrician, here’s what Dr. Swanson has to say:
“The main take home is not to treat fever per se, but your child. There is no reason to make a fever disappear if your child is otherwise acting well, playful, and staying hydrated. But do know there are some fevers that do require a visit with the pediatricians. It’s important to seek care when fever persists after 3 days in infants and children, any fever in a baby 3 month old or less, and if fever is over 104 degrees.”
AND HERE’S WHAT DR. CHOW-JOHNSON HAS TO SAY:
- “Fevers are safe. A fever is the body’s way of controlling its immune response. Your child’s body is controlling the temperature and it’s going to fluctuate no matter what you do. Don’t awaken a child from a deep sleep to give medications for the fever. Sleep is more important.
- Take oral temperatures when possible and rectal ones when not. Ear, sticker, pacifier and temporal artery thermometers are not reliable. Stick to a good, old-fashioned digital thermometer for the best accuracy. As far as how frequently a fever needs to be checked, once a day is sufficient.
- There is not a maximum number on the thermometer that means go to the emergency room, unless your child stops drinking, urinating or responding well. But if children are doing all three, parents can monitor them from home.
- Your goal should be your child’s comfort, not reducing the fever. Be generous with fluids, ice chips and popsicles. Dress children in light clothing and give tepid baths to help cool them down. Don’t use rubbing alcohol as this can be absorbed into the skin. Give fever reducers only if your child feels uncomfortable, not solely to reduce the temperature. And don’t alternate fever-reducing medications, as this could lead to overdosing or excessive medication that your child doesn’t need.