"When we're talking about fevers in children we are talking about a lot of misunderstanding about what the fever actually means," says Dr. Mark Flanzenbaum, M.D., FAAP. "It has less to do with the height of the fever, than it does with the symptoms that are associated with the fever."
If your child has a fever of 101, it really doesn't mean a whole lot different than if they have a fever of 104, says Dr. Flanzenbaum. "It's more a matter of: Are they eating well? Are they drinking? Are they acting normally? And the same goes true for when you are treating the fever."
Your child will look lethargic and less active when the fever is elevated.
"Most parents don't really make the connection that how much the fever comes down, is really not any indication of how bad the illness is," says Dr. Flanzenbaum."If your child has a 103 fever, looks miserable and you give them a dose of Ibuprofen and an hour later it's at 102, and they look a little better, and they aren't having trouble breathing -- if they are acting better than they were, that's a good sign."
It is important to recognize the fever, not necessarily the temperature, says Dr. Flanzenbaum. Unless you get into the 105, 106 range, "then there are some other illnesses we think about." He says a lot of parents get nervous when their children have a fever, especially in the higher range, that there is a risk of a seizure.
"When kids have fever related seizures, febrile seizures, it actually has everything to do with how quickly the fever goes up and very little, if nothing, to do with the height of the actual fever," says Dr. Flanzenbaum. "If you are treating the fever, if you are giving your child Tylenol or Ibuprofen, or if your are doing what we do at KidMed, which is to recommend alternating them back and forth between the two, the likelihood of the fever going up quickly is actually pretty small and the risk of a seizure is very small. With the kids that have febrile seizure, luckily we know that occurs in the early years -- really don't see it beyond age 3 or 4. In kids who are above that, it's not even an issue to worry about. In the younger kids, as long as you're managing the fever, it's okay."
Click to watch the video above to learn when to take your child to the doctor when they have a fever, the symptoms to look out for and more.
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