The Medical Clinic
Do you believe these myths about fever?Fever makes parents anxious. However, fever is now known to be a good thing, and parental concerns are usually misplaced. Do you believe any of these myths?
Myth: Fever is bad for you
Fever is a symptom of an underlying illness, usually a viral infection and, in itself, is harmless. Fever from an infection will not cause brain damage or affect a child’s development.
Fever helps fight infection. It stimulates certain cells and chemicals which kill germs.
Fever is a warning that there may be a problem requiring treatment. Other signs such as rash, lethargy and poor feeding may also be present. Some infections such as meningitis or pneumonia can be serious and your doctor may need to check for them.
Myth: Treating fever prevents fits
About 1 in 25 children aged 6 months to 6 years of age have a seizure due to a fever. These fits are frightening to parents but are not harmful and do not cause brain damage.
There is now a lot of evidence that lowering the temperature does not prevent seizures.
Myth: It is important to treat a fever
Fever is harmless and does not need to be treated just because it is there. In any case, the drugs used for fever (paracetamol and ibuprofen) have a very modest effect, if any.
However, a fever can make a child miserable, cause aching, headache, discomfort and lethargy. Medication, extra fluids and light clothing can help relieve these symptoms.
Myth: Alternating drugs is beneficial
Some parents are now using paracetamol and ibuprofen alternately or together. However, there is no evidence that this is more effective than using only one medicine.
There is also an increased risk of incorrect dosing and more side effects. Most doctors do not recommend this practice.
Please note this information was correct at time of printing.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.
Source: Winter 2010 edition of Your Health Newsletter