What Do You Think? Fevers And Meds

Did your mom use a glass thermometer? Mine did! Digital still seems “new age” to me! LOL

Having an elevated temperature is the body’s normal response to certain illnesses, and can also sometimes be a result of teething in babies and toddlers.

Infection is the most common cause of fever in children. Common viral and bacterial illnesses like colds, gastroenteritis, ear infections, croup, bronchiolitis, and urinary tract infections are the most likely illnesses to cause fever.           -from www.uptodate.com 

It’s normal – yes. But as the parent, it is not the easiest thing to see your child go through. :(

Here are some possible treaments for fever (also from uptodate.com): 

Medications — The most effective way to treat fever is to use a medication such as acetaminophen (sample brand name: Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (sample brand names: Advil®, Motrin®). These treatments can reduce the child’s discomfort and lower the child’s temperature by 2 to 3ºF (1 to 1.5ºC). Aspirin is not recommended for children under age 18 years due to concerns that it can cause a rare but serious illness known as Reye syndrome.

Acetaminophen may be given every four to six hours as needed, but should not be given more than five times in a 24-hour period. Acetaminophen should not be used in children younger than three months of age. The dose of acetaminophen should be calculated based upon the child’s weight (not age).

Ibuprofen may be given every six hours. Ibuprofen should not be used in children younger than six months of age. The dose of ibuprofen should be calculated based upon the child’s weight (not age).

Giving combinations of acetaminophen and ibuprofen or alternating acetaminophen and ibuprofen increases the chance of giving the wrong dose of one or the other of the medications.

Fever-reducing medications should only be given as needed, and discontinued once bothersome symptoms have resolved.

Increase fluids — Having fever can increase a child’s risk of becoming dehydrated. To reduce this risk, parents should encourage their child to drink an adequate amount of fluids. Children with fever may not feel hungry, and it is not necessary to force them to eat. However, fluids such as milk (cow’s or breast), formula, and water should be offered frequently. Older children may eat flavored gelatin, soup, or frozen popsicles. If the child is unwilling or unable to drink fluids for more than a few hours, the parent should consult the child’s healthcare provider.

Rest — Having a fever causes most children to feel tired and achy. During this time, parents should encourage their child to rest as much as the child wants. It is not necessary to force the child to sleep or rest if he or she begins to feel better. Children may return to school or other activities when the temperature has been normal for 24 hours.

Sponging and baths — Sponging is not as effective as antifever medications and generally is not recommended.


But do we treat fevers at all? If so, when?

  • I usually give meds to reduce fever before bed at the very least, because I cannot monitor my child if they are asleep and I am asleep (though I have gotten up in the middle of the night to check). Also, I can’t judge whether or not a child is lethargic at midnight because they’re exhausted anyway. So, I give meds to break a fever about 30 minutes before their bedtime. Not to mention I am a scaredy cat…
  • I also give my little one something to reduce it when I see that they are very uncomfortable during the day. When my older children are sick I usually let them be, rest on the couch because if they start to feel better they won’t take it easy. Under the age of 3 or so, though, I generally will give meds during the day because they don’t understand why they feel so bad and it just kills em to see them suffer!

What do you think?

Do you give meds to reduce fevers with your kids?


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30 thoughts on “What Do You Think? Fevers And Meds

  1. It just depends. If it’s making them uncomfortable then I give them ibuprofen. Otherwise I usually just let them ride it out. There was one time that my son spiked a fever that we were instructed to throw him the tub to help bring his body temperature down. That was a bit scary!

    Sometimes when they have a fever that spikes suddenly there’s risk of febrile seizure. That’s one situation where giving ibuprofen or tylenol that may be beneficial. I guess my sister in law had several episodes of that with a couple of her children. Scary stuff!

  2. I guage the miserableness level of my kiddo before I give him tylenol/ibuprofen. Sometimes I give it for teething, but that’s after 2-3 days of general crabbiness and restless sleeping. He hasn’t had a fever yet, but I imagine it’ll be about the same as your philosophy…during the day, monitor, rest, fluids, try to get the body to do it’s natural thing. but at night…well, we ALL want a “good” night’s sleep.

    • That’s great that he hasn’t had any fever yet!! Samuel (14 months) is having his first experience with sickness currently and had a fever of 102.5+ under the arm for a few days so I medicated when he was really feeling bad, but when it was just a low-grade fever I watched and waited. Thanks for stopping by. :)

  3. I will treat a fever every time if it is over 102.5, if it is a virus, and less than that, then no. God created our bodies to handle little infections. My daughter has kidney reflux so she gets kidney infections quite often. Her body is better at regulating her temperature than when she was an infant so I don’t medicate until I get her to the doctor (which is RIGHT AWAY, mind you). Since fevers kill both good and bad bacteria (as do antibiotics) I supplement with yogurt, and keep the kiddos very hydrated. Honestly, if I medicate my children, they act like they are not sick, and try to pull the same energy level as their normal selves. I would prefer them to realize the cues their bodies give and rest, I hope that doesn’t make me sound terrible!

    • Oh, I totally agree! I should have said the temps I was referring to!! Duh. I am talking 102+ when I say I medicate. Your little girl sounds like she’s been through a lot!! I bet she’s a trooper! :) Thanks for your response.

  4. same here – I only give it before sleep or when very uncomfortable. In fact, I was told not to give meds as much as possible so that a) I have a better idea of his real well-being and can monitor if he gets better or worse and b) fever is good, it kills certain bacteria and viruses

    • Oh, hon I’m so sorry you had to experience that – it must have been so scary! :( So, if a child is on meds, a seizure isn’t possible, or it’s less likely?

      • Yes it is less likely as long as you monitor the temperature. In our case, the meds help until such time that the temp normalizes. It’s important that the temp does not shoot up at any time to avoid the seizure. =<

  5. Oh, good one… We just had a horrible flu a few weeks ago. Like, we were all in agony. I was very reluctant to give my 2 1/2 year old anything at first. But, the fever went on and one for days and days, and finally, I gave her something. She was so miserable and delirious and so was I! I do believe that the fever is there for a reason, it’s fighting the infection, so I do like the fever to run its course. But, when my 2 1/2 MONTH old had the same flu and fever, I couldn’t do anything but wear her in a baby wrap. My GP told me to take her clothes off and put her under the a/c, but he wasn’t my normal doctor and I thought that was stupid, because when I have a fever, I want to be kept warm, even if I’m not! Anyway, so, I stuck her in her baby wrap and wore her around for hours at a time. I noticed when she was on me, her temperature actually went down, as opposed to when I had her laying bed next to me. Kangaroo care, or keeping them on your chest, is really the most amazing healing power for small babies! Your breasts act as temperature regulators and will heat up and cool down depending on the temp of your baby! Pretty rad!

  6. Hi, Valerie, just popping in to see if your wee one is feeling better? My littlest asthma-inclined boy had a bad fit of coughing last night (isolated, nothing serious), but it made me think of your frightening ER experience–on the road to recovery?

    • Thanks so much for asking! He’s doing much better. :) He’s on Albuterol in a nebulizer every 4 hrs as needed for wheezing, but we’ve only had to do it twice a day. His croup cough is not that bad and never really was – it was the wheezing that rushed us to the ER. I am planning to post about it (and how he’s doing now) if I can later today. Stay tuned! ;) And thank you for your kind words about my Sexy Wife post. :D

  7. Hey, I don’t have a munchkin yet, but I worked as a paramedic for 2.5 years for one of the busiest ERs in the nation so I saw a fair share of sick kids. Can I just say, it’s WONDERFUL and really encouraging to see rational moms discussing fevers on here instead of panicking at the slightest temp change! I hope I can remain as calm and rational when my own little one gets a fever! I’ll probably figure out where I walk the line on giving meds for fevers, because yes fevers can serve a purpose. However, like the one mom (The Sadder but Wiser Girl) mentioned, fevers that spike too fast can cause a febrile seizure. It’s important to note it isn’t how HIGH the fever gets necessarily (though I’ll probably have a 102 limit without meds because really high is not good) but how FAST it spikes that can lead to a seizure. It’s the bodies way of re-setting the temp system. Really scary, but babies bounce back from febrile seizures quick with usually no harm done and they tend to grow out of them. And, yeah, I know it stinks to watch a baby shiver and I’m sure Ill be a miserable wreck when it’s my own, but the first thing to do with a febrile child is make them naked. Too hot is not good. Shocking them with an ice bath is a bad idea, but keeping them in nothing but a diaper is actually helpful, at least just in non-footie pjs. Piling on blankets can make the fever worse, and maintaining a fever for a long time is not good for the body, baby or adult. Dehydration is no joke, pile on the fluids, kids lose water quick. It’s hard to watch when a toddler doesn’t even flinch when you start an IV because they’re so lethargic from loss of fluids :/ Anyway, thats my two cents from my experiences, I know I don’t have any mommy credibility, but I did treat a bunch of febrile babies/toddlers-from seizures to teething :) I hope your little one is feeling better!

    And I really like that yogurt tip from wingsaseagles40, I hadn’t thought about that before. What a great idea.

    Oh, and I’ve been bugging my other paramedic/nurse/doctor friends about the forehead temp scan that uses the temporal artery and have gotten nothing but really positive feedback. Most state that it’s more accurate than the ear/armpit/under the tongue and usually really close to the rectal/internal temp. Just in case you ever feel like using something besides the glass one (not that there is anything wrong with the glass one) :)

    • Thank you so much for stopping by and giving such helpful information!! I wonder if you could answer a question for me. When my little boy (14 months) was resting during the days that he was having a fever off & on, he would sort of jolt every so often. He was in my arms much of the time when napping because he felt so rotten, so I felt these jerks and jolts. Is that similar to a seizure caused by a spiked temp? It was only on the days his temp was over 102. I was medicating during that time. Just wondered, as I don’t remember my older children having that go on. ??

      • I wasn’t there to see it so I can’t give you a 100% definite answer, but most likely it was myoclonic jerks which sometimes happen when sleeping. Just muscles relaxing and spasming, could be more pronounced when the little one is feverish because of the lethergy that usually goes along with fevers. Kind of like the reflex that babies have where they’re almost asleep and then their muscles jerk spastically and they wake themselves up. My niece did it ALLLLLL the time, it drove my sister crazy. A true seizure-febrile or otherwise-the baby stops breathing completely so there is usually a color change (grey or blue), eyes roll up in the back of the head, and they usually go rigid and then start jerking around continuously for several seconds. It seems like an absolute eternity, but the longest I’ve ever seen a febrile last is 45 seconds (not that it can’t last longer, but thats the longest I’ve ever witnessed), usually they’re around 15 seconds or so. It can happen more than once in a row, though most febrile seizures are “one and done” The baby will be super sleepy afterwards for awhile and hard to wake up, but thats normal, their muscles just got the equivalent of the entire p90x exercise course crammed into a few seconds, I’d be sleepy too.

        My guess would be that it wasn’t a seizure, but like I said, I wasn’t there so I wouldn’t know for sure. If he does stop breathing and go completely rigid, I might take him to the doc just to get him evaluated to rule out epilepsy. If it is febrile seizures there isn’t much the doc or anyone can do except continue to monitor the fever, and I’ve never heard of a febrile seizure causing any type of permenant damage, they are just really scary to witness.

      • “but most likely it was myoclonic jerks which sometimes happen when sleeping. Just muscles relaxing and spasming, could be more pronounced when the little one is feverish because of the lethergy that usually goes along with fevers.” That sounds about right. He was never rigid and he never stopped breathing. Thank you so much for taking the time to respond. :)

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