Thursday, March 25, 2010

What is a fever?

We see a lot of panic over fever. It's scary and a lot of parents don't know what to do when their child has a fever.

What is a fever?
Simply said, a fever is the elevation of the body's internal temperature. Average body temperature is 98.6 F (37C) but this can vary from person to person and the time of day. Generally anything over 100.4F (38C) is considered a fever. I see people all the time who tell me that they had a fever of 99 because their "usual" temperature is 97 but this is not a fever.

A fever is your body's way of fighting off bacteria or viruses. So when you or your child has a fever, it's because you are fighting an infection. Which leads to the question.. should you lower the fever if it means your body is fighting off an infection? The answer is not always.. generally lower temperatures don't need to be treated unless there are other symptoms that are causing problems. The Motrin should not necessarily be a knee jerk reaction to your child having a fever.

I often see people who tell me they had a fever because they were hot. This is not an accurate measurement of fever and most of the time they didn't have a fever in the first place. I tend not to believe people who tell me this.

Other methods of "taking temperature" I have seen
  • putting your head against kid's forehead
  • "her cheeks were red so she had a fever"
  • she was tired so she had a fever

Of course the easiest and most effective way to know if you or your child has a fever is to check their temperature!

Next- when do I worry about a fever?

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