New Advice on Fevers: Wait and Watch
< Mar. 02, 2011 > -- When a child runs a fever, most parents run to the medicine cabinet to offer relief.
But here's the latest word from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): Wait.
"Sometimes, parents think that if they treat a fever that their child will get better faster, but fever is a sign of illness, and it's the body's way of slowing the germs down to help get rid of them," says Janice Sullivan, M.D., at the University of Louisville.
The AAP, in a report published in this month's Pediatrics, now recommends that parents only treat a fever if it's making their child feel uncomfortable. Instead of focusing on the thermometer reading, parents should monitor their child's behavior.
If your child is eating and drinking well, and playing, you probably don't need to offer any fever-reducing medication, the AAP says.
"Fever is one of the triggers that your body uses to produce more white cells," says Dr. Sullivan. "If you bring a fever down, your child may not produce as many white cells to fight the infection."
Use only as directed
On the other hand, if your child seems lethargic and is generally uncomfortable, fever-reducing medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen may make your child feel a little better. Give these medications only as directed by the package or your child's health care provider, based on your child's age and weight.
Dr. Sullivan says it's important to not give your children adult formulations of anti-fever drugs, even if you attempt to break tablets up to provide the correct dose.
And NEVER give aspirin to children, because of its association with Reye syndrome, a potentially life-threatening condition.
Here is other fever advice from the AAP:
When should you call the doctor about a fever? Dr. Sullivan offers these general guidelines:
For more information on health and wellness, please visit health information modules on this website.
How to Take a Rectal Temperature
When your little one is ill and you need to check his temperature, follow these steps:
Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.
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