Don’t Sweat it: Treating a Child’s Fever Explained

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As a mom, I understand the fear parents have when they think their child is having a fever.

As a nurse, I think about things like “febrile seizures,” or brain damage from fevers, and rush for acetaminophen or ibuprofen (popularly consumed as Tylenol® or Motrin®). But is rushing for one of these items the smartest thing to do? Is it crucial to maintain a normal temperature? And how do you monitor and treat a fever for your child in the best possible way?

Signs of Fever

  • Hot dry skin
  • Temperature above 101.5 Fahrenheit

Fever Research Update

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In a Clinical Report put out by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2011, some important guidelines were outlined based on research studies of general healthy children. The findings of this study included the following:

  • Fever is common in children
  • Fever is the body’s way of fighting infection
  • Some fevers can actually help a child recover faster from viruses
  • Fever cannot make an illness worse
  • Fever cannot cause long-term neurological problems
  • It is rare for high fevers to cause convulsions or comas

Click here for the official research study overview.

Treating a Child’s Fever

Taking your child’s temperature 
Get a good thermometer and learn how to take your child’s temperature.

Maintaining Body Temperature

  • Keep the room temperature between 70-74 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Dress your child in light cotton pajamas
  • If your child has chills, cover with an extra blanket and remove when the chills stop 

Watch Your Child
Observe your child for signs of serious illness. Call your pediatrician with any of the symptoms below and report the temperature as well.

  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Earache
  • Fever coming and going over days
  • High-pitched crying
  • Irritability
  • Lack of appetite
  • Pale skin
  • Seizures
  • Severe headache
  • Skin rash
  • Sore or swollen joints
  • Tugging at ears

Rest and Hydrate
Make sure your child gets plenty of rest and give your child plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration and help the body cool itself. Good choices for hydration during a fever are: water, clear soups, popsicles and jello.