Don’t Fear the Fever

 Some helpful tips from the song

Fever is one of the most common concerns that I see each day in clinic. Fortunately, most of the children are not significantly ill, so much of the appointment can be spent educating parents on fevers — which symptoms are concerning and which illnesses are likely to resolve on their own. Thus, I have a short speech on fevers that I give many times each day. This song is an attempt to set that speech to music — so you can listen to it the next time your child has a “Saturday Night Fever.”

It’s the weekend, now 3 am
His forehead feels like a fire
But it won’t hurt him, 106 even
It’s his way to fight disease

They aren’t a cure but for a few hours
Motrin or Tylenol can cool him off
He doesn’t need them, but he’ll feel better
If he’s fussy from being hot

Fever. . . it is just a number
It’s her body trying to heal
If acting well, then she will get better
If she’s ill, she needs to be seen

Special cases: under 3 months and
100.4 see a doctor right away
Over 102 or still hot on day two;
if under 3 you should call me that day

 

 

 

 

 

 

It doesn’t matter how high the fever is – it won’t hurt the child’s brain!  The only way that the temperature can get hot enough to damage the body is when a person is exerting themselves in a hot environment  – this is called heat stroke, it is not caused by the fevers that the body generates to fight off infection.  You may have heard of some children that can have a seizure when they have a fever.  This does happen to a few children – but believe it or not, it is rarely harmful and it doesn’t seem like you can prevent febrile seizures even if you try to keep the fever low with medicines!

If a child is less than 3 months of age, I would like to evaluate them immediately if they have a fever >100.4; the younger children will have blood, spinal fluid and urine checked, the older ones may just have urine checked if they seem healthy.  The younger or more ill ones are likely to require admission to the hospital.

In a child under two, there is no hard and fast rule (there is much more agreement between physicians on the children in the first few months of life); but if the child has a fever over 102 or for more than 24 hours, I think it is reasonable to at least call me or see me in clinic.  In an otherwise well appearing child, the visit is not an emergency; however, in a fever without a clear source, I am generally worried about UTI in little girls, and even in boys I like to make sure they are well hydrated and doing well.

The most important point: if you are worried about your child (they are abnormally sleepy, not having as many wet diapers, inconsolable or any other concerning symptoms), you should seek medical care, no matter what the temperature is.  In an older child (over 3 months) that seems otherwise healthy, the fever is not an emergency.

Here is a helpful link to the Tylenol dosing guide and the Motrin dosing guide for children all the way down to infancy from the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Healthy Children website.

Here is a lot more great parent information on fevers from the American Academy of Pediatrics – it is some of the best data on the web, check it out!

Many, many thanks to my friend and fellow physician JB who contributed the gorgeous violin and mandolin tracks to this song from thousands of miles away. The Internet is an amazing thing! I look forward to continuing to work with him on projects in the future.

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