5 common myths about childhood fevers

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Many parents think a fever is is bad and will hurt their child, but experts say there is no reason for this fear. Dr. Shannon Cohen with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital says fevers are harmless and often helpful.

Myth: My child feels warm, so he/she has a fever

Dr. Cohen says children can feel warm for many reasons, like playing hard, crying, getting out of a warm bed or hot weather. They are giving off heat and skin temperature should return to normal in 10 to 20 minutes. About 80 percent of children who act sick and feel warm at the same time do have a fever.

Myth: All fevers are bad for children

Fevers act like the “on switch” for the body’s immune system, helping the body fight infection. Normal fevers between 100 and 104 can be good for sick children. It means the immune system is fighting an illness as it should.

Myth: All fevers need to be treated with fever reducing medicine

Dr. Cohen says fevers only need to be treated if they cause discomfort. Most fevers don’t cause discomfort until they go above 102 or 103. Offering plenty of fluids and dressing your child in lightweight, comfortable clothing can help.

Myth: If you can’t break the fever, the cause is serious

According to Dr. Cohen, fevers that don’t come down to normal can be caused by viruses or bacteria. The response to fever medicines reveals nothing about the cause.

Myth: If fever is high, the cause is serious

The cause of a high fever may or may not be serious. Dr. Cohen says it is important, however, to see a doctor if you have an infant younger than three months old with a temperature of 100.4 or higher, or an older child who has a stiff neck with fever, persistent diarrhea, repeated vomiting or a recurring fever for five days or more.

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