All right parents, let’s be honest. When you feel your child’s forehead and it’s warm, do you immediately reach for the meds? Pediatricians say giving them a fever-reducing medication isn’t always the right thing to do -- but why?
The C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health released in February shows a lot of parents -- one in three -- are guilty of this.
Dr. Maureen Ahmann with Cleveland Clinic Children’s said it’s important for parents to treat the child and not the number shown on the thermometer.
“I am not surprised. A lot of parents give their children fever-reducing medications if their child’s temperature is 98.9 or 99, and we really don’t recommend that,” she said.
For example, if a child has a 102-degree temperature but seems comfortable otherwise and is eating and drinking, Ahmann said she would not recommend giving them fever-reducing medication.
The reason? She said in some cases, a fever is a good thing because it can help stimulate the immune system to fight off infections.
She added that fever-reducing medication can also mask other symptoms that might be important for a doctor to know about.
However, if a child has a high temperature and appears to be in pain and is refusing fluids, Ahmann said giving medication is OK. Ultimately, though, if you’re ever unsure of what to do, she recommends calling your pediatrician.
HELPFUL LINKS FOR PARENTS: Figuring out a child’s fever | What’s normal, what’s high & when to call the doctor
“If your child gets a fever and you have questions, call us,” she said. “If the fever lasts more than a few days or if your child is less than 3 months old, or if the fever is over 104, or really the child just looks like they are in pain, they’re not acting well, we ask for you to call us.”
As far as treating fevers at home, Ahmann said the key is to make sure your child stays hydrated and comfortable. And if you notice they have chills, she said, do not bundle them up in blankets. That could make their temperature rise even more.
Doctors say you can try a lukewarm bath which may help bring the body’s temperature down and be soothing at the same time.