If your child has a fever, treatment is not complicated. Here are some tips:
- First: Dress her in 1 layer of light weight clothing and give her 1 light blanket for sleep. Most heat is lost through the body's surface. If you bundle your child up, it will cause the fever to go higher. Also provide extra fluids in unlimited amounts, since they're lost during sweating. This is all the treatment that's necessary for children with fevers between 100 and 102 degrees - the range of fever that fights infections.
- Second: Give your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen if the fever is over 102 degrees or if your child is uncomfortable from the fever. Acetaminophen usually reduces the fever by 2 or 3 degrees Fahrenheit. It doesn't bring the temperature down to normal. And you don't want it to. During infection, try to keep your child's temperature in the good fever range of 100 to 102 degrees. If your child is sleeping, don't awaken her for the medicine.
- Third: Never give aspirin for fever. Aspirin has been linked to an increased risk for Reye’s Syndrome, a severe encephalitis-like illness. Aspirin should be avoided until age 21. Be sure to tell your teenagers, since they tend to self- medicate.
- Fourth: Sponging your child is rarely required. If she remains uncomfortable after receiving acetaminophen and the fever stays above 104 degrees, consider it. Sponging doesn't work unless your child also receives fever-reducing medicine. Sponge with lukewarm water and keep the skin wet. As the water evaporates, it will carry away heat. A word of caution: If you sponge, don't add rubbing alcohol. If inhaled, it can cause a coma.
- Finally: Refocus on how your child looks and acts. Your child's symptoms are much more important than the level of fever.
If you think you child may need to be seen, call your healthcare provider for advice.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. FAAP
Last Review: 6/1/2008
Last Revised: 6/1/2000
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages.