Fever facts for parents: What you should know when treating your child
With cold and flu season also comes fever season, and across the country, parents will experience anxiety levels that rise in tandem with their children's temperatures. In fact, more than half of parents report feeling anxious, fearful or helpless when their child comes down with a fever, according to the recent "Dose of Reality" survey by the makers of Children's Advil.
In addition to their concern, many parents also seem unaware of the proper ways to deal with their child's fever. In fact, in the survey of more than 1,000 parents of children younger than 12, more than half said they have sent their child back to school or daycare less than 24 hours after a fever passed, and nearly a quarter admitted to giving their children an adult over-the-counter medication at an estimated lower dose to treat a fever.
"Even some of the most seasoned parents worry about fever," says Dr. Alanna Levine, a nationally recognized pediatrician, mother of two and spokesperson for Children's Advil. "It's the most common reason I'm paged after office hours. I like to reassure parents with 'fever phobia' that fever is their friend."
On its HealthyChildren.org website, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) points out that fever is the body's natural response to infection. The AAP also notes that a fever does not necessarily mean a child needs to go to the emergency room or even see a doctor.
Yet one third of pediatricians surveyed by Pfizer estimate that up to half of their patient's parents have taken their child to the emergency room due to a fever before calling the doctor. And 94 percent of the doctors surveyed said they feel parents need more education on fever management.
Levine has partnered with Children's Advil this cold and flu season to offer parents some helpful advice for proper management of their child's fever:
- Stay cool. Remember that most fevers indicate that the body is fighting an underlying illness.
- Be prepared. Talk to your pediatrician about fever at the start of cold and flu season, and ask for information on proper fever management. Also, check your medicine cabinet to ensure that all medications have not expired or been recalled. Check recalls.gov to stay aware of any recalls.
- Watch for serious signs. Generally, you should call your pediatrician if your child is 3 months or younger and has a fever of 100 degrees or higher, if your child is older than 3 months and has a fever that exceeds 103 degrees, if your child has a fever and looks and acts very sick, or if the fever lasts for more than three days. As always, call your pediatrician with any concerns.
- Dose appropriately. More than a third of parents dose their children primarily based on age, rather than weight, according to the survey. Yet, weight is more accurate and the basis preferred by doctors. If weight is not known, dosing by age is acceptable.
- Do not give your child an adult medication. Nearly one in four parents surveyed admit to giving their children an adult over-the-counter fever medication at an estimated lower dose. Parents should always use a children's medication and never give an adult product to a child, unless specifically recommended by your child's physician.
- Medicate wisely. When choosing a fever medication, be sure to consider how long it will last. For example, Children's Advil, which contains ibuprofen, provides up to eight hours of relief with just one dose.
- Let sleeping children rest. More than half of parents surveyed said they wake their child in the middle of the night just to give them fever medication, yet most pediatricians believe a sleeping child should not be awakened solely to be given fever medication. Parents should closely monitor their children, and if they have any concerns about treating the child's fever, they should check with their pediatrician.
- Allow time to recover. The AAP recommends that parents keep their children home from school or daycare until the child is fever-free for at least 24 hours.
You can learn more about fevers and Children's Advil at www.ChildrensAdvil.com or at Facebook.com/ChildrensAdvil.
"The goal of treating the fever is really to make the child feel better," Levine says. "During this cold and flu season, all parents should be armed with the proper facts about fevers and how to manage them."
Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, the maker of Children's Advil, sponsored this article.
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