The parenting books that I’ve read seem to belittle fevers a bit, saying things like, “Fevers by themselves don’t do any harm to the body” and “fevers aren’t bad because they’re the way the body fights off infections.”
All of this may be true, but I don’t like them. Not at all.
My son didn’t get a high fever until he was over 18 months old. He’d gotten low fevers — maybe 101 at the most — when he had ear infections, but they didn’t freak me out.
But one day my son was burning up. We took his temperature, and I nearly hyperventilated when I saw that it was over 104. He was groggy and miserable, sitting on my lap for hours whimpering. When I called the doctor in near hysterics, he didn’t seem that impressed and told me to keep an eye on it and call back if it got over 105. I tried to ask a thousand questions, “Should I alternate medicines? Should I give him a bath? Should we go to the hospital?”
The doctor told me not to worry and to give him plenty of liquids.
A year later I’ve had more experience with fevers. I still hate them, and they still freak me out. It’s scary to see your kid feverish.
So what should you know about treating a fever so that you can be rational and prepared (unlike me when dealing with that first high fever)?
1. Check to make sure that your child has a fever. There are two over-the-counter medications to treat fevers: acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin).
2. Check with your doctor before alternating these two over-the-counter medications. It’s important to remember to maintain six hours in between the use of the same medicine, while alternating between medicines every three or four hours. To help you remember, jot down the exact times and doses.
3. Make sure you know about the changes to acetaminophen. Before there were two concentrations: one for infants 0 – 3 years of age and one for children 2 – 12 years of age. Now both the infants’ and children’s liquid acetaminophen are made in the same strength to make it easier for parents and caregivers to avoid common dosing errors.
4. Use the age-appropriate dosing devices for each product. All infants’ single-ingredient liquid acetaminophen products include a plastic syringe to administer medicines by mouth. All children’s single-ingredient liquid acetaminophen products include a small plastic measuring cup for easy, convenient use.
5. Use your child’s weight to determine his dosage. This is the most accurate method, not age. Acetaminophen is most commonly administered at a dose of 10 mg/kg to 15 mg/kg every four hours; whereas, ibuprofen is usually administered at a dose of 10 mg/kg every six hours.
Here’s a helpful infographic from OTCSafety about how to treat fevers. What have been your children’s experiences with fevers? Any helpful hints?
Dani Ryan says
Thank you for this! My issue is that I can’t get medication into my child’s mouth, so I am paranoid about her getting sick. I actually have to buy tylenol suppositories and have antibiotics made in suppository format, too. It’s not great!
Even after four kids, I still get freaked out by a fever. I worry about contagious things and the whole house getting sick. My husband always pushes me to let it run its course. And I feel so miserable when I have a fever that I want to help the kids feel better. When we brought Nate home the hospital (#4), Rebecca (#2) had about a fever of about 103 for five days. It was a nightmare.
This is a great recap, especially of the dosing and frequency. My daughter was REALLY sick last year and had a 104 fever for about 4 days. It was really scary. She also developed pneumonia. it’s the sickest she has ever been.