Fevers are the number one concern for parents. Many doctor visits are due to fevers.  Remember, if a child is over 2 months of age and is not lethargic or having other symptoms a fever is the body’s way of fighting infection. If your child is under 2 months of age you should call your doctor urgently. A fever can be of concern if your child is not responsive, appears to be in pain or the fever persists for several days. Whenever you are unsure about the dangers or treatment of fevers it is always best to call your doctor. Below are some fever myths & facts.

Yours In Health,

Dr. Pam

Myths & Facts about Fevers

MYTH: My child feels warm, so she has a fever.

FACT: Children  can feel warm for a many reasons such as playing hard, crying, getting

out of a warm bed or being outside on a hot day. They are “giving off  heat”. Their

skin temperature should return to normal in 10 to 20  minutes. Once these causes

are excluded, about 80% of children who feel  warm and act sick actually have a

fever. If you want to be sure, take  their temperature. The following are the cutoffs

for fever using  different types of thermometers:

* Rectal, ear or temporal artery thermometers: 100.4° F (38.0° C) or higher

* Oral or pacifier thermometers: 100° F (37.8° C) or higher

* Axillary (armpit) temperatures: 99° F (37.2° C) or higher

MYTH: All fevers are bad for children.

FACT: Fevers  turn on the body’s immune system. Fevers are one of the body’s  protective

mechanisms. Normal fevers between 100° and 104° F (37.8° –  40° C) are usually good

for sick children and help the body fight  infection.

MYTH: Fevers cause brain damage or fevers above 104° F (40° C) are dangerous.

FACT: Fevers  with infections don’t cause brain damage. Only body temperatures above

108° F (42° C) can cause brain damage. the body temperature climbs this  high only

with extreme environmental temperatures (for example, if a  child is confined to

a closed car in hot weather).

MYTH: Anyone can have a febrile seizure (seizure triggered by fever).

FACT: Only 4% of children can have a febrile seizure.

MYTH: Febrile seizures are harmful.

FACT: Febrile  seizures are scary to watch, but they usually stop within 5 minutes.

They cause no permanent harm. Children who have had febrile seizures do  not have

a greater risk for developmental delays, learning disabilities,  or seizures without


MYTH: All fevers need to be treated with fever medicine.

FACT: Fevers  only need to be treated if they cause discomfort. Usually fevers don’t

cause any discomfort until they go above 102° or 103° F (39° or 39.5°  C).

MYTH: Without treatment, fevers will keep going higher.

FACT: Wrong.  Because the brain has a thermostat, fevers from infection usually

top  out at 103° or 104° F (39.5°- 40° C). They rarely go to 105° or 106° F  (40.6°

or 41.1° C). While the latter are “high” fevers, they are  harmless ones.

MYTH:With treatment, fevers should come down to normal.

FACT: With treatment, fevers usually come down 2° or 3° F (1° or 1.5° C).

MYTH:  If the fever doesn’t come down (if you can’t “break the fever”), the cause

is serious.

FACT: Fevers  that don’t respond to fever medicine can be caused by viruses or

bacteria. It doesn’t relate to the seriousness of the infection.

MYTH:If I can “break the fever”, the infection will go away.

FACT: The  fever will normally last for 2 or 3 days until the body turns off the

virus’s attack and gets the upper hand. This process cannot be hurried.  The source

of this misconception is that during an infection, when the  fever goes away, the

child is usually on the road to recovery. It’s  magical thinking, however, to assume

that making the fever go away  earlier (which is impossible), will make the infection

go away earlier  too.

MYTH: If the fever is high, the cause is serious.

FACT: If  the fever is high, the cause may or may not be serious. If your child

looks very sick, the cause is more likely to be serious.

MYTH:The exact number of the temperature is very important.

FACT: How your child looks is what’s important, not the exact temperature.

MYTH: Oral temperatures between 98.7° and 100° F (37.1° to 37.8° C) are low-grade


FACT: Wrong,  these temperatures are normal variations. The body’s temperature

normally changes throughout the day. It peaks in the late afternoon and  evening.

An actual low-grade fever is 100° F to 102° F (37.8° – 39° C) .

SUMMARY: Remember that fever is fighting off your child’s infection. Fever is one

of the good guys.

Disclaimer: This  information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical

advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full  responsibility

for how you choose to use this information.