The temperature above which it is worse to give fever-reducing medicines to your children
As is known, the winter season is accompanied by a large number of viruses. circulating at school or daycare. And a warm forehead is often one of the first clear signs that a child has contracted a virus. But are parents reacting appropriately to their children’s elevated temperatures? A new study calls into question what was previously thought about fever in young children.
Although most parents recognize that a low fever helps a child’s body fight infections, one in three parents would administer fever-reducing medication in case of temperatures below 38°C, which is not recommended, according to the National Poll on Children’s Health of the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital of the University of Michigan (United States).
Half of parents would also use medication if the fever were between 38 and 39 degreesand a quarter of the parents would probably administer another dose to prevent the fever from recurring.
Keeping children comfortable with fever
“Parents often worry that their child has a fever and want to do everything they can to reduce their temperature. However, they may not be aware that, in general, the main reason for treating a fever is simply to keep their child comfortable,” Mott Poll co-director and Mott pediatrician Susan Woolford, M.D., has noted.
“Some parents are quick to medicate their children, but it is often better to let the fever run its course. Lowering a child’s temperature does not usually help cure his illness more quickly. In fact, a low fever helps fight infection. There is also a risk of administering too much medication when it is not needed, which can have side effects“, he explained. The report is based on 1,376 responses from parents of children under 12 surveyed between August and September 2022.
Two out of three parents surveyed say they are very sure they know if their child needs fever-reducing medication. But just over half are sure they understand how temperature readings can change depending on the method used.
The method used to take the temperature
The method used to take a child’s temperature is important and can affect the accuracy of the measurement, Woolford notes. Parents surveyed most often take their child’s temperature by forehead or mouth probing, while less than one-sixth use ear, armpit, or rectal methods.
Remote thermometers on the forehead or inside the ear canal can be accurate if used correctly. But readings at the forehead can be inaccurate.Woolford says, if the scanner is held too far away or if the child’s forehead is sweaty. With ear thermometers, which are not recommended for newborns, earwax can also interfere with the reading.
For infants and young children, rectal temperature is the most accurate. When children are able to hold the thermometer in the closed mouth, oral temperature is also accurate, while axillary is the least accurate method. “Contact thermometers use electronic thermal sensors to record body temperature, but body temperature can fluctuate depending on how it is measured,” Woolford explains.
Check the thermometer instructions
“Regardless of the device used, it is important for parents to review the instructions to ensure that the method is appropriate for the child’s age and that the device is positioned correctly when measuring temperature.” Three out of four parents say they take their child’s temperature as soon as they notice a potential problem, while just under a quarter wait to see if the problem continues or worsens before taking the temperature.
In addition, two thirds of parents also prefer to try methods such as a cold cloth before using fever-reducing medications. Most parents also state that they always or usually note the time of each dose and retake their child’s temperature before giving another dose.
“A quarter of parents would give their child more medication to keep them from getting a fever again, even if it doesn’t help them get better,” Woolford says. “If a child is otherwise well, parents may consider monitoring and using alternative interventions to help keep him or her comfortable,” she adds. However, if a newborn or infant less than three months old has a fever.should see a health care professional immediately, Woolford adds.
Fever can help fight infections
According to Woolford, fever can be beneficial, and there are several reasons to let it run its course in older children, mainly because it acts as a weapon to kill the virus or bacteria causing the illness. Evidence shows that fever is part of the immune response to stop viruses and bacteria from reproducing and also to produce more white blood cells and antibodies.
On the other hand, he warns that fever-reducing drugs also mask symptoms. “Medications used to lower temperature also treat painbut pain is often a sign that helps pinpoint the source of an infection,” Woolford explains. “By masking pain, fever-reducing medications can delay diagnosis and delay receiving treatment if needed,” he reiterates.
He adds that parents may also be tempted to take children outside when they seem noticeably better after medication, when in fact they are still highly contagious and can infect others. If medication is resorted to, care should be taken not to overmedicate.