Why your child’s fever might be a good thing
You’ve done all you can to protect yourself and your children from germs, but no matter how careful we are, kids often get sick and fevers are common. But if you’ve ever watched the numbers rising on the thermometer, a child’s fever can be frightening for parents.
But are fevers always a bad thing? What’s actually going on when that thermometer rises? When should you panic? Is it always important to reduce your child’s temperature?
Are fevers something to worry about?
Fevers indicate your child’s immune system is fighting off infection. The immune system is working at high gear by producing many infection-fighting cells. Some parents worry that a high temperature will cause damage to their child’s body, but the temp would have to be as high as 107 degrees before there is a risk.
What’s actually going on when my child’s temperature rises?
High temperature speeds up metabolism and inhibits the growth of the invading virus or bacteria by reducing its ability to reproduce. Once bacterial reproduction is halted, the body can complete the job of destroying the cause of infection.
What is the best way to take my child’s temperature?
Temperatures taken rectally are the most accurate but can be challenging to accomplish. The second best method is to take it orally. Taking the temperature from the armpit is the least accurate method.
When should I panic?
Fevers are most worrisome in children less than 3 months of age. At this age, a child with a rectal temperature of 100.4 degrees or greater should be seen by a doctor immediately. High fevers do not cause brain damage unless they are greater than 107 degrees or associated with diseases that affect the brain, like meningitis (an infection of the fluid that covers the brain and spinal cord). Seek emergency treatment if your child is approaching these extremely high temperatures.
Is it important to reduce the temperature?
One of the main reasons to reduce a temperature is the make your child feel more comfortable. But you also want the fever do its work, since higher temperatures help fight infections.
Another reason to reduce temperatures is that some children might have a seizure if their temperature shoots up. But this is rare and not a reason to try to reduce the temperature of a child with a fever.
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health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care sites, also including freelance or intern writers.