Fevers

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Mom, almost instinctively, checks your forehead for a fever to see if she should keep you home from school.  That’s a good plan.  If your body is ill, one of the proper responses is for it to develop a fever.  The fever is not the problem however; it is part of your body’s solution. 

A recent question by a parent of a child with an ear infection brought this up.  Most parents get scared when their child gets sick and this is perfectly normal.  They should.  This information may help to calm you down.  Our bodies were masterfully designed to be able to combat illness on their own.  Sometimes they need a little help, but often are capable if we just provide the right environment for health.

When it comes to temperature normal is not 98.6° F (37° C).  That is a number for the text books, but anything from 97° F to 99° F may be normal for you.  A normal fever (in a person greater than 3 years old) is between 102.2° F and 104.5° F (39° C and 40° C). This temperature is not bad and should be considered beneficial; it is being regulated by the body and is still under control.  It’s ok.

A fever above 104.5° F (40° C) is not going to cause damage, but does indicate more seriousness and you should see a doctor if you have a fever that gets to this level or a low grade fever for more than 5 days.  Damage to the body or brain is not going to occur until temperatures of 108° F (42° C) or higher.  So don’t panic.

Over the counter fever reducing drugs are not even recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.  In the case of home medication for children with fevers they suggest and I agree that treatment should be provided to “improve the child’s overall comfort rather than focus on the normalization of body temperature.”  If a child can’t sleep due to pain then they will have more difficulty getting well.  Care should focus on proper fluid intake and comfortable rest and not on reducing the fever.  For additional information please see this article by Claudia Anrig, DC.

2 thoughts on “Fevers

  1. S.T.

    Well said, Dr. Anrig. Many people think that the fever is the problem when many times it is actually the bodies way of naturally helping itself to get rid of the problem by raising the internal temperature. Thank you for writing an easy to understand explanation of this process. Keep up the good work!

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  2. Kyle

    This info is so important! There’s an automatic reaction to reach for the fever-reducing medication whenever one feels just slightly under the weather or reaches 99. In fact, it’s possible to have a “normal” temperature of 99.4 or even higher, depending on the person. Fevers serve a really important purpose: usually, they’re not the problem, they’re the solution.

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