Fevers are a hot topic right now! Bad joke I know… Misconceptions about the dangers of fevers are commonplace. Unwarranted fears about harmful side effects from a fever cause lost sleep and unnecessary stress for many adults and parents. Fevers are one of the body’s protective mechanisms and turn on the body’s immune system. Let the following facts help you put fever into perspective:
Most fevers are good for sick adults and children by helping the body fight infection. The exception is babies less than 3 months of age. They should be seen by a healthcare provider right away. Use the following definitions to help gauge your child’s level of fever:
100°F to 102°F: Low-grade fever: Beneficial. Try to keep in this range.
102°F to 104°F: Moderate-grade fever: Beneficial.
Over 104°F: High fever: Causes discomfort, but is still beneficial.
Over 105°F: High fever: Higher risk of bacterial infections.
Over 108°F: Serious fever: The fever itself can be harmful.
MYTH: Fevers cause brain damage or fevers over 104°F are dangerous.
FACT: Fevers with infections don’t cause brain damage. Only body temperatures over 108°F can cause brain damage. The body temperature goes this high only with extreme environmental temperatures (for example, if a child is confined in a closed car in hot weather).
MYTH: Anyone can have a febrile seizure (seizure triggered by fever).
FACT: Only 4% of children have febrile seizures.
MYTH: With treatment, fevers should come down to normal.
FACT: With treatment, fevers usually come down 2° or 3°F.
MYTH: The exact number of the temperature is very important.
FACT: How your child looks and acts are what’s important, not the exact temperature.
Remember, fevers were innately designed to help fight off infection!