5 Fever Facts
For parents with young children, the “F” word can be scary – of course we are talking about a fever. Many parents believe that fevers are caused only by serious medical problems, have the potential to cause brain damage if not treated properly, and can even trigger seizures. Dr. Kapadia of Quakerbridge Pediatrics gives you the fever facts behind the top 5 most commonly heard fever myths.
Parents Note: The following fever facts do not apply for newborn children or infants under the age of 3 months. Please call Quakerbridge Pediatrics if your newborn or infant is displaying symptoms of fever. Please also note that the following information will not apply to all forms of fevers.
Myth #1: All fevers are bad or unhealthy for children.
Fact: If you child is sick, a fever can actually be a good thing. Fevers turn on your child’s immune system and help the body fight any infection your child may have. Normal fevers between 100° and 104° F (37.8° – 40° C) may play a vital role in helping your son or daughter get healthy.
Myth #2: Fevers above 104° F (40° C) are very dangerous and may cause brain damage within your child.
Fact: In a child with a normally functioning brain, a fever is a normal response to an infection. All brains act with an internal “thermostat” that will prevent a child’s body temperature from reaching high enough level to cause brain damage. Most fevers will never reach levels above 103° or 104° F (39.5°- 40° C) and will rarely go to 105° or 106° F (40.6° or 41.1° C). Temperatures above 108° F (42° C) may cause brain damage, but it is extremely rare for a child to reach such a high temperate. A normal fever in response to an illness in a normal child will not cause brain damage.
Myth #3: You must treat your child’s fever with medication.
Fact: A fever can make your child feel horrible and treating a fever with medication only helps them to feel better – it will not necessarily fight the cause of the fever. Anti-fever medications do not work to “break” or bring your child’s temperature back to normal, but rather help your child when they are uncomfortable. Treating your child’s fever can help them rest and decrease the risk of dehydration, which can ultimately help them become healthy faster.
Myth #4: There is a certain temperature that requires emergency medical attention.
Fact: All children will react differently to fever-inducing illness and thus they may exhibit body differ temperatures during these times. Aside from specific expectations, children do not need to maintain a “normal” temperature throughout the duration of their sickness. Remember that fevers are the body’s way of fighting common infections and that fevers are symptoms of another illness. Fevers are not their own disease. Many parents think a fever of 104° F (40° C) is a sure signal of an emergency, but that is simply not the case.
Myth #5: A child that feels warm, is a child with a fever.
Fact: Yes, a fever will make your child feel warm and uncomfortable, but there are many other reasons why your child may feel warm. If you child has been running or playing, was crying or is upset, or was exposed to a warm environment they may feel warm to the touch. This is their skin “giving off heat” and is a normal function of a healthy child. Skin temperature should return to normal within 20 minutes or less.
Possible Fever Symptoms
If you believe your child does have a fever it is best to take their temperature. Use the following base guidelines to begin to diagnose a possible fever:
- Ear, forehead, or rectal temperature: 100.4° F (38.0° C) or higher
- Oral (mouth) temperature: 100° F (37.8° C) or higher
- Armpit (under arm) temperature: 99° F (37.2° C) or higher
If you child is experiencing symptoms of a fever or illness, or if you have questions for Dr. Kapadia or the pediatric staff of Quakerbridge Pediatrics, please do not hesitate to call our office at (609) 631-9006.