The Role of a Fever

When your child has a fever, your first instinct is probably to try to get it to come down right away, but most pediatricians will tell you that a fever isn't always a bad thing and sometimes, it is okay to leave it and let it go away naturally. In fact, before you decide on a fever treatment, you should assess the situation to determine whether any form of treatment is even really needed.

Assess the Situation

First, you should know that a fever occurs when your child's body is fighting a virus or bacterial infection. The fever is how the body makes the germ less comfortable so it won't stay very long. Therefore, fevers can actually be good and therefore, not all of them need to be treated immediately. A lot depends on how your child is feeling and acting, and how long he has been sick. If your child is more than a few months old and the fever isn't too high (102 degrees F or below), you may want to wait it out for a while and let the fever do the job that nature intended.

But if you have a newborn, or the fever starts to climb even higher, or the fever is mild but it is lingering and your child seems very uncomfortable, then you probably do need fever treatment medicine to lower your child's temperature.

Recommended Fever Treatments

When the situation warrants it, you should give most children a fever-reducing medicine such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. (Just avoid aspirin, since this can cause a serious condition in some children.) Always follow the dosing directions on the label, and keep in mind that infant fever reducer drops can be more concentrated than toddler medicines, so be sure not to give more than recommended for your child's weight. (Also, if you have an infant, check with your pediatrician for advice before giving any medication.)

Other Fever Treatments

There are other methods you can also use to treat a fever. For instance:

  • Make sure your child is drinking enough liquid to avoid dehydration.
  • Use a lukewarm bath to help to bring down a fever and make your child feel better. Often this can be most effective when done in conjunction with a fever-reducing medicine.
  • Make sure that your child is warm enough. Turn the heat up if it is cool outside and give plenty of blankets.
  • Allow the heat from the fever to escape by dressing your child in light clothing or pajama in cotton or another fabric that breathes.

Know the Warning Signs

While most fevers are not harmful, you will want to be on the lookout for signs that your child could need medical treatment. This can include:

  • Ongoing diarrhea or vomiting
  • Signs of dehydration (such as sunken eyes, dry mouth, lack of tears)
  • Ear pain
  • Constant crying
  • Lack of appetite
  • Severe headaches
  • Skin rash
  • Sore throat and/or ear ache
  • Stiff neck
  • Stomach pains
  • Signs of a seizure

In addition, if the fever goes over 103 degrees, lasts for several days, or goes away and then comes back, or is accompanied by other symptoms, it is always a good idea to see your pediatrician in case your child has an infection that warrants an antibiotic or other treatment.




American Academy of Pediatrics

Family Academy of Family Physicians

University Hospitals Authority and Trust