Your child has a fever. Should you worry?

By • Published: June 20th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

It began simply enough. Your toddler came down with a runny nose and surprised you by volunteering for a nap. But now, you’re a bit concerned. Junior has a fever that’s not breaking. How worried should you be?

In most cases, parents shouldn’t be too concerned, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. A new clinical report from the group reminds doctors and parents that fever is a sign one’s body is valiantly battling an illness.

Fevers fight the growth of germs in the body and pump up production of white blood cells. Some evidence shows fever may help people recover from sickness more quickly. While it may be uncomfortable for your child, a fever won’t actually harm him or her.

Unlike high temperature caused by heat stroke or heat exhaustion, fever does not raise the risk of troubling conditions, such as brain damage. The report even says the common belief that a fever above one-hundred-and-four degrees leads to a greater risk of such outcomes is unfounded.

But don’t let a fever run unchecked. To make your child more comfortable and prevent dehydration, administer acetaminophen or ibuprofen and encourage lots of drinking.

Misuse of these medicines is common in children and can be harmful. Parents should pay special attention to instructions and determine the proper amount of medicine for a child based on weight, not age or fever intensity.

In some cases, parents should be concerned about fever. For kids with chronic or serious illnesses, fever may be dangerous. Ask a pediatrician for special care instructions in either of these cases. If your child has a febrile seizure, don’t panic. Just contact the doctor, who can help verify the seizure was not caused by a serious illness, instead of the fever.

Keeping these tips in mind can help you stay calm next time your little one is running a temperature.