Myths About Fever

Fever: Myths About

MYTH: All fevers are bad for children
FACT: Fevers turn on the body’s immune system
Fevers are one of the body’s protective mechanisms
Most fevers are good for children and help the body fight infection

MYTH: Fevers cause brain damage or fevers over 104°F (40°C) are dangerous
FACT:  Fevers with infections don’t cause brain damage. Only body temperatures over 108°F (42.2°C) can cause brain damage. Fevers only go this high with high environmental temperatures (eg. confined to a closed car)

MYTH: Anyone can have a febrile seizure
FACT:  Only 4% of children can have a febrile seizure

MYTH: Febrile seizures are harmful
FACT: Febrile seizures are scary to watch, but they usually stop within 5 minutes. They cause no permanent harm

MYTH: All fevers need to be treated with fever medicine
FACT: Fevers only need to be treated if they cause discomfort. Usually fevers don’t cause any discomfort until they go over 102° or 103°F (39° or 39.5°C)

MYTH: Without treatment, fevers will keep going higher
FACT:  Wrong. Fevers from infection top out at 105° or 106°F (40.6° or 41.1°C), due to a thermostat in the brain

MYTH: With treatment, fevers should come down to normal
FACT: With treatment, fevers usually come down 2° or 3°F (1° or 1.5°C)

MYTH: If the fever doesn’t come down (if you can’t ‘break the fever’), the cause is serious
FACT: Fevers that don’t respond to fever medicine can be caused by viruses or bacteria.
It doesn’t relate to the seriousness of the infection

MYTH: If the fever is high, the cause is serious
FACT: If your child looks very sick, the cause is serious

MYTH: The exact number of the temperature is very important
FACT: How your child looks is what’s important

MYTH: Oral temperatures 98.7° to 100°F (37.1° to 37.8°C) are low-grade fevers
FACT: Oral temperatures 98.7° to 100°F (37.1° to 37.8°C) are normal temperature variations–often peaking in the late afternoon and evening. For rectal temperatures, normal elevations are 99.5° to 100.3°F (37.5° to 37.9°C)