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A Little Review About Fever

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

We had a guest on our show yesterday who is a pediatrician, who also started a pediatric after hours clinic. He discussed when to call the doctor, and it must have been foreshadowing for the day. My phone rang several times yesterday with concerned parents whose children had fever. Now that the swine flu issues seem to be behind us for now, they were not concerned about flu, but they were concerned about fever. The funny thing was the calls were all from fathers who were home with the children while their wives (and mothers) were out enjoying Mother’s Day. Made me giggle as I wondered if their wives would have handled the fevers, who knows?

At any rate a little review about fever seemed to be in order for the spring viral season. In spring, we still see kids with fever, although typically not as many children get sick, and they often do not have other symptoms with their virus. These spring and summer viruses are usually “quieter” than the winter variety, which was accompanied by hacking coughs lots of congestion. Fever may be the only symptom, and children may still run high fever. Fever in an infant under two to three months old is a separate issue (we’ll cover that tomorrow), but for a young child it is not the height of the temperature that is important (that is what prompted the concerned Dad phone calls), but rather it is how your child is acting and responding to you.

A five-year-old with 104 degree temperature will be pathetic, whiny and uncomfortable, but they should be responsive, and taking fluids and not so lethargic you can’t awaken them and you should be able to console them and “your-baby” them with a little TLC until you get the temperature down. Best always to start treating the fever with an acetaminophen (Tylenol) product and have a dosage chart based on weight available to ensure that you are giving your child the correct dosage. Make sure give appropriate dosage for the product you are using (drops, syrup or caplets). If the fever persists and does not come down with that, you can alternate giving an ibuprophen (Motrin, Advil) product. Again, consult the dosage chart. The Tylenol can be given no more often than every 4 hours, and the Motrin/Advil is given every 6 hours. It helps to write down what you are giving when, as it is often the middle of the night and a tired parent may forget which medicine they gave. If there are no other symptoms other than fever, I would recommend watching your child for 24 – 48 hours to see if the fever resolves. A spring virus typically does not last as the nasty winter ones. Fever is only a symptom, and not to be feared.

Thanks to all of the Dads for a great Mother’s Day!

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow.

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