Kids Health: Children and fevers

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The cold and flu season is here and parents may be reaching for the thermometer more to check a child's temperature.

Many parents have seen their child playing happily one moment, only to have their temperature zoom to seemingly scary heights hours later.

Dr. Eileen Everly of Children's Hospital says often fevers aren't as serious as they seem, and they do serve a real purpose.

She says, "Fever is the body's way of trying to kick out the bacteria or the virus."

Babies can also develop slight fevers after vaccinations, or if they are overdressed. They just don't regulate their body temperatures as well as older kids.

Dr. Everly says fevers can be very different in adults and children.

"Things that would be considered fever maybe in an adult would not necessarily be so in a child, she says.

For example, normal temperatures in kids can range from 97.5 to 100.3 degrees.

It's not until 100.4 to 101 degrees that doctors consider kids to have a low-grade fever.

And number alone is no longer enough to cause concern.

A child may not need an urgent visit to the doctor "If the child is looking well, and drinking well, and urinating well, and not breathing too fast, and not acting like they can't breathe, and are happy," said Dr. Everly.

She also says if a feverish child is uncomfortable, and the doctor's office gives the green light, its okay to give acetaminophen or ibuprofen, so the child can rest and recover.

But, never give aspirin. It can cause a dangerous condition called Reye's syndrome.

And, Dr. Everly says don't follow some of the old-school treatments for fevers - such as putting the child in summer pajamas, tepid water baths, or even alcohol baths.
These practices defeat the purpose of most fevers to fight infections.
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