Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

Natural Birth & Parenting Natural Birth & Parenting

Avoiding ‘fever phobia:’ treat the kid, not the number

Posted by on Dec. 12, 2012 at 10:17 AM
  • 55 Replies
8 moms liked this
Avoiding ‘fever phobia:’ treat the kid, not the numberBy Dr. Tyeese Gaines

theGrio

Fever is the most common reason parents bring children to emergency rooms, especially in the middle of the night. It’s responsible for 1.6 million pediatric ER visits and nearly one-third of pediatrician office visits.

Why? Because fevers scare parents.

In a 2001 study of caregivers, more than half of the parents worried that a fever would harm their children, including brain damage, seizure or death. A more recent studyhad similar results: more than half of those parents reported being “very worried” when their child is febrile.

Dr. Tyeese Gaines

This concept of “fever phobia” was first coined in 1980 by pediatrician Dr. Barton Schmitt to describe excessive, sometimes unrealistic, parental fear of fevers. He felt that most of these concerns were not justified, and that they often led to hasty administration of fever reducers.

And whether it’s fever phobia, misinformation or both, some parents give fever reducers to children with, not even low-grade temperatures, but normal temperatures and occasionally give it too frequently.

I frequently remind parents of three things:

One, fever is the body fighting off an infection -- a normal response, not something to be feared. It will not “melt” or “fry” the child’s brain.

Two, a fever is a temperature of 100.4 and above. Anything below that number is not considered a fever, not even a low-grade fever.

Three, a rectal temperature is the most accurate measurement of core body temperature, at any age.

Yes, there are children who have seizures with high fevers, called febrile seizures, but repeatedly tracking temperatures and flooding them with fever reducers won’t prevent those from happening. Actually, nothing has been proven to.

Febrile seizures only typically happen between the ages of six months and three years. Outside of this age bracket, there is little need to worry. To date, febrile seizures have not caused long-term brain damage.

When it comes to fever, there is no magic number. One child can look great at 104 degrees, eating well and playing, while another is pooped out at 100.4. Consider it more like a yes or no question. As in, does he or she have a fever? Yes or no. Then, how does he or she look?

The brain also has an internal mechanism that will not allow body temperature to exceed 106 degrees, except in rare situations such as heat stroke.

While fever is a sign of an infection or illness, the number itself is not an indicator of its severity. Garden-variety viruses for which there is no treatment can cause high temperatures, while bad ear infections requiring antibiotics can cause no fever at all.

Likewise, when parents treat a fever and it comes back before it’s time for the next dose -- a phenomenon that causes much worry --it’s usually because an improper dose was given for the child’s weight. It should be dosed by weight, not age, with the help of a physician.

Remember that treating the fever doesn’t take away the illness, so when the acetaminophen or ibuprofen (never aspirin!) wears off, the fever will come back. The goal should be to improve the child’s comfort, not to decrease it to a particular number.

When to worry?

Fever in a child two months of age or younger A child who still appears lethargic after the fever has gone away Fever lasting longer than five days Fever in a child with a lowered immune system or a chronic disease Fever after spending prolonged time in the heat A febrile child who is vomiting non-stop or not drinking fluids Fever with a stiff neck and headache

Parents and caregivers should always call the pediatrician or visit the emergency room for an examination if there are concerns about a fever. But, try to avoid panicking or giving the child fever reducers that he or she may not need. Treat the kid, not the number.

Dr. Tyeese Gaines is a physician-journalist with over 10 years of print and broadcast experience, now serving as health editor for NBC's theGrio.com. Dr. Ty is also a practicing emergency medicine physician in New Jersey. Follow her on twitter at @doctorty.

Note: The information included in this post is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/48617869/ns/health-childrens_health/t/avoiding-fever-phobia-treat-kid-not-number/? __utma=14933801.1726047414.1344740998.1 &__utmz=14933801.1344740998.1.1.utmcsr= (direct)|utmccn=(direct)|utmcmd= (none)&__utmv=14933801.|8=Earned%20By=m
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
by on Dec. 12, 2012 at 10:17 AM
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Replies (1-10):
larissalarie
by on Dec. 12, 2012 at 10:19 AM
Shared this in a mainstream group awhile ago, but since it looks like there's some "fever phobia" in this group too...
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
EthansMomma2010
by on Dec. 12, 2012 at 10:25 AM
I dont treat fevers. I treat pain and crying and other symptoms. I did rush him to the er this summer. But his body was on fire and he couldn't breath. Diagnosis croup. But for me a fever is 99. Lol. So I understand this article. It is important to know your child's bbt rectally.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
melindabelcher
by on Dec. 12, 2012 at 10:27 AM
1 mom liked this
Thanks for the info. I used to have fever phobia and still have caution with marcus but because of his issues it forced me, in a good way, to educate myself.
Posted on the NEW CafeMom Mobile
Baby_Avas_Momma
by on Dec. 12, 2012 at 10:30 AM
1 mom liked this
I used to have fever phobia when dd was younger, only because everyone in my family has lol. After much research I'm alot better about it lol!
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
joyful_mama
by Bronze Member on Dec. 12, 2012 at 10:35 AM
1 mom liked this

Will be passing this on!

jellyphish
by Platinum Member on Dec. 12, 2012 at 10:56 AM
3 moms liked this
Shouldn't treat symptoms at all, should treat disease of which fever is an indicator. There's a difference between masking a fever with drugs and treating a disease that comes with a fever with natural remedies.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
LuvingMy3Girls
by on Dec. 12, 2012 at 10:59 AM
1 mom liked this
I always let fevers fun there Coarse that is why I think my kids are rarely sick and needing meds my 14-year-old daughter has been on antibiotics once in her life my nine-year-old daughter never in my three-year-old daughter never.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
jellyphish
by Platinum Member on Dec. 12, 2012 at 11:18 AM
1 mom liked this
This is why I love my dr too. Isis had a fever when she was young approaching 103, and I really wasnt sure what the worry point was, so I took her in. She was relatively comfy, so dr said no worries, here's a natural remedy to help her sickness, let the fever run its course, no need to worry until 105 or if she gets miserable. She also said brain damage won't happen until 107. 107!!

Even when I was naive about it though, I knew it was ridiculous to worry about a mild fever and I NEVER understood rushing to the ER where there are much worse nasties a babe can catch!
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
larissalarie
by on Dec. 12, 2012 at 11:31 AM
3 moms liked this
I am SOOOOO with you on the ER thing!!!!! I always thought the ER was for if you think you might die before you can get a doctor appointment. Otherwise you just go see your doctor if you're too concerned.

Quoting jellyphish:

This is why I love my dr too. Isis had a fever when she was young approaching 103, and I really wasnt sure what the worry point was, so I took her in. She was relatively comfy, so dr said no worries, here's a natural remedy to help her sickness, let the fever run its course, no need to worry until 105 or if she gets miserable. She also said brain damage won't happen until 107. 107!!



Even when I was naive about it though, I knew it was ridiculous to worry about a mild fever and I NEVER understood rushing to the ER where there are much worse nasties a babe can catch!
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
jellyphish
by Platinum Member on Dec. 12, 2012 at 11:38 AM
1 mom liked this
Yup. ER = death. I've been to the ER once, and I knew it was unnecessary, but I had to do it. I had just been told by uc I was losing hera in early pregnancy, and my options were to to ER for confirmation now on fri night, or wait until my dr office opens mon. I couldn't wait for that. (although I should have, they also told me I was having a mc when i wasn't)
Quoting larissalarie:

I am SOOOOO with you on the ER thing!!!!! I always thought the ER was for if you think you might die before you can get a doctor appointment. Otherwise you just go see your doctor if you're too concerned.

Quoting jellyphish:

This is why I love my dr too. Isis had a fever when she was young approaching 103, and I really wasnt sure what the worry point was, so I took her in. She was relatively comfy, so dr said no worries, here's a natural remedy to help her sickness, let the fever run its course, no need to worry until 105 or if she gets miserable. She also said brain damage won't happen until 107. 107!!





Even when I was naive about it though, I knew it was ridiculous to worry about a mild fever and I NEVER understood rushing to the ER where there are much worse nasties a babe can catch!
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

close Join now to connect to
other members!
Connect with Facebook or Sign Up Using Email

Already Joined? LOG IN