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Fever is usually a sign of illness (by mouth greater than 100° F, by rectum greater than 101° F); however many parents are overly concerned about the harmful effects of fever on their children.

Medical literature indicates that most of this fear is unjustified since fever itself rarely produces serious complications. Although fever will make most children uncomfortable and should be treated for that reason, it is the underlying disease itself (not the fever) that has the potential of being harmful. The degree of the fever does not have to be related to the type of illness. Sometimes high fever comes from mild illness (upper respiratory infection) and also low fever can also come from serious illness (meningitis).

Here is a simple pattern to follow to keep your child comfortable until the infection can be evaluated.

For a Temperature of 102° F – 103° F:

  • Use Acetaminophen every 4 hours or use ibuprofen every 6 hours.
  • Keep child lightly dressed.
  • Encourage fluids.

For a Temperature Over 103° F:

  • Alternate Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen every 3 hours (e.g., 2 PM Acetaminophen; 5 PM Ibuprofen; 8 PM Acetaminophen; 11 PM Ibuprofen, etc.)
  • Keep child lightly dressed.
  • Encourage fluids.
  • A tepid bath for 15 to 20 minutes may be helpful.

NOTE: Aspirin should NOT be used in the presence of Chickenpox or influenza.

Myths About Fever

  • MYTH: Everyone with a fever needs penicillin or a “mycin.”
  • MYTH: The temperature must be kept normal or it will “fry” the brain.
  • MYTH: Every child with high fever will have a convulsion.
  • MYTH: Every child with a fever must be seen immediately.

TRUTH: It is usually best to wait (but inform the doctor) and watch to allow the developing illness to show its true colors.

Call Our Office

Please call our office to report fever accompanied by other symptoms. Please call our office for a fever that lasts more than 3 days. Our office is available to answer your questions.