Fever, a common symptom in children, is scary to most parents, but it is one of the body’s normal responses to fighting off an infection. There are many misconceptions regarding fever. It will not “fry” your child’s brain or cause any type of brain damage. Some children have a tendency to get seizures with fevers. These febrile seizures typically occur between six months to six years of age and do not result in any long-term brain damage, nor does it mean that your child has or will have a seizure disorder. Febrile seizures are more likely to occur with a rapidly increasing temperature rather than simply a high temperature.
Significant fever is any temperature over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures below 100.4 degrees are mild elevations that often do not bother children and typically do not require treatment. A normal body temperature may range from 97 to 100 degrees. The most accurate way to check temperature is rectally, especially in infants under two months of age.
With respect to treating or evaluating a fever, there is no magic number. It is advised to treat based on your child’s behavior rather than the number on the thermometer. Remember that fever is a good bodily response to fighting off an infection, thus you do not necessarily have to treat a fever. It is recommended that you do not force your child to take medication, nor should you wake your sleeping child to give medication.
Most fevers can be monitored at home for approximately 48 to 72 hours as long as there are no other concerning symptoms and your child is staying hydrated. The brain will not allow the body temperature to exceed 106 degrees except in rare cases such as heat stroke. Fever reducers, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen do not cure a fever or the illness that is causing it. If the body is still fighting the infection, the fever will return as the medicine wears off. Temperatures may not always return to normal after a fever reducer is given; a decrease in temperature by one or two degrees is considered a good response to the fever-reducing medication.
**If your baby is under two months of age and has a fever of 100.4 or greater, she needs to be evaluated immediately and prior to administering any medication.