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Most Kid’s Fevers, No Worries: January 2, 2013

When little Rose Marie strikes a fever, her mom tries to keep a cool head.

“I think the natural inclination is to be nervous and you want to figure out what the cause is and figure out what you need to do to get it better as fast as possible,” says mom Caitlin Schultheis.

It may be a major worry, but most kid’s fevers are no problem says Nancy Witham, a pediatrican with Lee Memorial Health System.

“The fever is helping our body kill the infection that’s making us sick and that fever is a symptom, it’s not the illness itself,” says Dr. Witham.

Most frantic phone calls come from parents who want to know if a fever is too high. Truth is doctors don’t even consider a temperature a fever until it tops 100.

“Fevers in 102 range seem to be most of our winter colds or flu virus fevers. If your child is a 4 or 5 year, old the fever itself is nothing to be alarmed about,” Dr. Witham.

So when do you call or visit the doctor?

“Anything above the 103.5 – 104 range can be associated with significant infections, although it doesn’t have to be. So we want to know about fevers that high,” says Dr. Witham.

When the mercury rises, most moms reach for reinforcements.

“We try to treat the fever as quickly as possible using Tylenol as our first line medication and then we pay attention to other symptoms that she’s having,” says Schultheis.

“It’s actually surprisingly better to just let that fever be. There’s good data that suggests that the fever actually helps our immune system fight off that infection,” says Dr. Witham.

If your child is undergoing chemotherapy, has a stiff neck along with fever or one that lasts more than 5 days, you should consult your doctor immediately. Otherwise, it may be best to let nature take its course.