Fever In Children

Rarely a Reason to Panic

Doctors put fear into parents by leading them to believe that any time their child has a fever they need to call the pediatrician. The assumption doctors make, and want you to make, is that only they can diagnose the probable cause of a fever. You know this just isn't true!

A Great Marketing Tool for the Pediatrician

Some charge for phone calls received outside of office hours. Kids have this secret way of starting to run a fever after the doctor's offices are all closed. Mom calls doc at 10:30pm and receives a bill in the mail a few weeks later. Cha-ching!

Of course, the doctors are schooled on how to make this happen from the first time you make that call. If your child doesn't feel well and you call your doctor, what's the first thing you're asked?

"What's their temperature?"

These three words embed themselves into the brain for future reference. From then on, every time your child runs a fever, you think it's imperative to let the doctor know.

What does the doctor tell you? 

"Give your child a fever reducer and bring him to my office tomorrow." 

If fever in children were a real cause for alarm, the doctor would be more urgent about medical care. Another "cha-ching" for doc.

Fever Reducers Can
Do More Harm Than Good

The body insists on running a fever in order to boost the immune system. Any time fever is present, it means something else is also present. The body creates the fever to fight the invading enemy.

How do we harm our immune system?

Immediately shoveling fever reducers into a feverish child. What do these do? They make your child listless and lethargic. What was your child before the medication? Probably listless and lethargic!

If necessary, we only use a home remedy for fever to lower the temperature.

Reasons to Seek Medical Attention

There are always exceptions.

If your child is running fever in addition to exhibiting abnormal behavior, having respiratory difficulty, extremely listless or suspicions of meningitis are present, that would mean a quick call to the pediatrician.

There are times when the doctor needs to know the child's temperature, so it will help with a diagnosis, but for the most part, treating a fever is a very simple thing to do.

Is There Any True
"Normal" Body Temperature?

Although we have always been taught that normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees, that's not true for everybody.

Studies show that fever in children is often misdiagnosed by a parent simply because that child might run a higher normal body temperature. Most children's temperatures range from 96.6 degrees to 99.4 degrees. Very few run an exact temp of 98.6.

A child's temperature  can also fluctuate throughout the day. It makes sense that a child could have a normal body temperature of 98.6 in the early morning, but run a degree higher in the evening.  Activity makes everything warm up internally during the day.

Taking Temperature

Temperatures can vary depending on what method you use to take it. This can be done under the tongue, under the armpit, or in the rectum.

If using a mercury thermometer, make sure you shake the mercury down before taking temperature. Otherwise, you may not get an accurate reading.

Rectal temperature

Sometimes, this can be the easiest way to get your child to check their fever. Always use a little lubricant on the end of the rectal thermometer for the comfort of your little one.

A child's rectal temperature is usually about 1 degree higher than their oral temperature would be. Underarm temperatures will run about 1 degree lower.

This rule doesn't apply to infants. Their fever will generally be the same whether it's oral, underarm or rectal temperature.

Infant Fever

Fever in infants isn't to be taken as lightly as fever in children.  Things can happen during delivery that could cause an infant to run a fever. Hospitals are hideous germ factories.  A newborn baby isn't born with an immune system, so they could pick up a number of nasty things during their short hospital stay.

Due to this, for the first few months of baby's life, a doctor needs to know if fever is present.

Reference: How To Raise A Healthy Child In Spite Of Your Doctor.              Robert S. Mendelsohn, MD

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