Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Fevers Can Be a Child's Friend

Loyola Pediatrician Shares What Parents Need to Know about Fevers

MAYWOOD, Ill. – For many parents, discovering their child has a fever can be unnerving. It’s one of the most common reasons parents call their doctor or bring their child in for medical care. Fevers are just a natural part of many illnesses and, in fact, can be helpful as a child battles an illness.

“My most frequent calls are from worried parents who want to know how high is too high of a fever. What many parents don’t realize is that often, fevers are their child’s friend,” said Hannah Chow-Johnson, MD, Loyola University Health System pediatrician and assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

Fevers are not pleasant for kids. They can make them unhappy and fussy. They also force them to slow down, rest and sleep more, which are all necessary for a child to recover from an illness.

“Fevers can actually help your child recover more quickly, especially if he or she is battling a viral illness,” Chow-Johnson said. “I often wish thermometers had a gauge that read either ‘fever’ or ‘no fever.’ That would definitely help parents who worry if their child has a fever that’s too high,” Chow said.

She shares some facts to help parents better understand fevers.

  • Fevers are safe.  A fever is the body’s way of controlling its immune response. Your child’s body is controlling the temperature and it’s going to fluctuate no matter what you do. Don’t awaken a child from a deep sleep to give medications for the fever. Sleep is more important.
  • Take oral temperatures when possible and rectal ones when not. Ear, sticker, pacifier and temporal artery thermometers are not reliable. Stick to a good, old-fashioned digital thermometer for the best accuracy. As far as how frequently a fever needs to be checked, once a day is sufficient.
  • There is not a maximum number on the thermometer that means go to the emergency room, unless your child stops drinking, urinating or responding well. But if children are doing all three, parents can monitor them from home.
  • Your goal should be your child’s comfort, not reducing the fever. Be generous with fluids, ice chips and popsicles. Dress children in light clothing and give tepid baths to help cool them down. Don’t use rubbing alcohol as this can be absorbed into the skin. Give fever reducers only if your child feels uncomfortable, not solely to reduce the temperature. And don’t alternate fever-reducing medications, as this could lead to overdosing or excessive medication that your child doesn’t need.

There are times you should seek medical attention when your child has a fever such as:

  • A child who is less than 8 weeks old and has a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher should be seen by a physician immediately
  • A child who is undergoing chemotherapy or has a compromised immune system
    If there is no clear source for the child’s fever (no cough, runny nose or known pain) and the fever has lasted for 2-3 days
  • If a fever lasts for more than 5 days, see a physician, even if your child looks well.

For media inquiries, please contact Evie Polsley at epolsley@lumc.edu or call (708) 216-5313 or (708) 417-5100.

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), located on a 61-acre campus in Maywood, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital (GMH), on a 36-acre campus in Melrose Park, and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. At the heart of LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital that houses the Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, a burn center, a children's hospital, Loyola Outpatient Center, and Loyola Oral Health Center. The campus also is home to Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. The GMH campus includes a 254-licensed-bed community hospital, a Professional Office Building with 150 private practice clinics, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation. It serves people and communities in 22 states from coast to coast with 93 hospitals, and 120 continuing care locations — including home care, hospice, PACE and senior living facilities — that provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually.