Fever Phobia

Nov 26, 2010

Are you afraid of a fever? When your little ones develop a fever, do you automatically reach for the acetaminophen or ibuprofen? Have you seen a recent commercial on television that first shows a crying, feverish toddler, who then, after supposedly taking a certain fever reducer medicine, is happy and laughing? My first impression from it was that we are to see the fever as the illness and that by getting rid of it, we fix the problem. It looks normal to most parents because we have been taught that a fever is a bad thing. We can't cure a cold but we want to do whatever we can to make our children feel better so we treat what we can.

For the past week or so, my younger children have been fighting a virus that apparently has been affecting most of the community right now. Miles has had an intermittent fever since yesterday evening and the first thing that both my husband and my mother said was, "Give him some Tylenol." After all of the research that I've done, I know that a fever is not usually dangerous and is really a good thing in most cases. Although opinions vary, my own personal limit is 103 "ish", depending on how my child is acting, his age, his symptoms, and how long he's had it. Dr. Sears has a guide to fevers in children here and Dr. Greene has more to say here. You may want to print the information to have as a handy reference when you are dealing with a feverish child at 3 a.m.

Have you stopped to think about why we get fevers? Did you know that a fever is actually the body's natural defense against viruses and bacteria? So while there are conditions that warrant reducing a fever, not all situations require it. By lowering it prematurely with medicine, you may actually be making it easier for the germs to multiply and make your child sicker. Not exactly what you were shooting for, I'm sure.

Another downside to fever reducing medications is the potential for allergic reactions. NG broke out in hives after taking Motrin (ibuprofen) when he was younger. And when you take into consideration the warnings of potential liver damage from overuse of acetaminophen and the numerous recalls of Tylenol products this year, you may want to take a moment and reevaluate the need to give your child or yourself a fever reducing medicine. The AAP gives suggestions for treating a fever without medication.

Consider the fever a sign that something is brewing inside your child's body and make sure that he or she gets plenty of rest, eats healthy foods, drinks plenty of water, and stays away from others. Monitor his or her fever and symptoms and don't hesitate to contact your doctor if you notice any of the symptoms listed here.

Disclaimer: I am NOT a doctor. My information is from books and trusted online sources, as well as from conversations with my own family doctor. Please read the links above, do your own research, and consult your physician. As always, my advice is to be informed. Don't do things a certain way just because that's the way your mom, your grandmother, or "everyone else" does it.  


  1. Following you from Friday Blog Hop. Thanks for making me think about the treatment for a fever. I invite you to Daddy's time Friday on my blog, it's a way to give daddy some words of love for the time he spends with the kids. You have a beautiful family.

  2. I feel the SAME way about fevers. People do over react about them. Childrens' bodies can tolerate higher temps than adults' can. Fevers are not nearly as scary as they seem.....with-in reason of course. And what you say is VERY reasonable. 101-102 is kinda my limit though. When I see they are miserable, I just can't help myself. :)


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