Separating child fever myth from fact

Caring For Our Kids

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A child with a fever can keep parents up at night with worry, especially right now, but there is no reason for fever phobia.

Dr. Katy Stordahl from East Tennessee Children’s Hospital sorts out fever myth from fact.

5 common myths about fevers:

Myth: My child feels warm, so she has a fever.

Fact: Children can feel warm for many reasons like playing hard, crying, getting out of a warm bed or hot weather. They are giving off heat and skin temperature should return to normal in 10 to 20 minutes. About 80% of children who act sick and feel warm do have a fever.

Myth: All fevers are bad for children. 

Fact: Fevers act like the “on” switch for the body’s immune system. They help the body fight infection. Normal fevers between 100 and 104 degrees can be good for sick children. It means the immune system is fighting an illness as it should.

Myth: All fevers need to be treated with fever reducing medicine. 

Fact: Fevers only need to be treated if they cause discomfort. Most fevers don’t cause discomfort until they go above 102 or 103. Offering plenty of fluids and dressing your child in lightweight, comfortable clothing can help.

First Aid for Fever

Myth: If you can’t break the fever the cause is serious. 

Fact: Fevers that don’t come down to normal can be caused by viruses or bacteria. The response to fever medicines tells us nothing about the cause.

Myth: If fever is high, the cause is serious. 

Fact: The cause of a high fever may or may not be serious. However, it is important to see a doctor if you have an infant younger than 3 months old with a temperature of 100.4 or higher or an older child who has a stiff neck with fever, has persistent diarrhea or repeated vomiting, or has a recurring fever for five days or more.

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