Aug 16, 2019

4 min read

5 Myths about fever you need to stop believing

Let’s face it - parents, in general, tend to be a worried lot. But, can you really blame them? In today’s age of unbridled information access, parents are bombarded with enormous amounts of information, every day. Sure, this kind of universal information access leads to empowerment and helps parents make more informed decisions. But, it also has the unfortunate effect of causing worry and driving needless panic among parents. Here, we’ve debunked the 5 most prevalent fever myths, so you can rest easy, armed with solid scientific facts.

Myth 1:

My child feels hot to the touch. It must be fever

Children experience transient increases in temperature for a number of reasons - physical activity, hot weather, warm clothes/blankets or crying could all cause temporary spikes in a child’s body temperature. Moreover, as a norm, every person’s body temperature increases and decreases slightly, several times a day, reflecting surges and dips in their metabolic activity. Children, compared to adults, have very high rates of metabolism and this could translate to their skin feeling warmer than you’d expect, at times.

Isolated temperature readings obtained using a conventional thermometer could further mislead you into thinking your child has a fever when they don’t. In most of the situations mentioned above, your child’s body temperature returns to the baseline in about 20 minutes or so. We feel this is all the more reason to opt for continuous temperature monitoring, as it allows you to visualise the constant upward and downward movements of your child’s temperature and not panic needlessly.

Click Here to know more about continuous fever monitoring and it’s numerous advantages over traditional thermometry.

Myth 2:

Fevers are an indication that my child is in danger

Fevers are a completely healthy, physiological response. They help activate your child’s immune system, enabling them to fight off infections more effectively. Usual fevers between 37.8°C - 40°C [100 °F -104 °F] are actually very beneficial for your child when they are sick.

Myth 3:

Fevers can trigger seizures which are dangerous and cause brain damage

In 96% of children, there are no instances of seizures during fever (febrile seizures). Even if your child falls in the 4% category, you should take heart in the fact that while febrile seizures are scary to see, they pose no real danger to your child’s health or developmental outcomes. In an overwhelming majority of cases, they last no longer than a few minutes and any fears of brain damage are for the most part, entirely unfounded.

Myth 4:

If I don’t give my child fever medication, the fever will keep climbing higher

The brain keeps a precise hold on the temperature setting of the body, much like a thermostat does over the temperature of your room. During a fever, the brain increases the “temperature setting” to a higher point, so as to help the body fight off infections more effectively. However, there is still a “set-point” and the body temperature isn’t allowed to increase beyond this point.

Fever medications such as paracetamol (acetaminophen) and ibuprofen definitely help in reducing your child’s discomfort and are broadly safe, but it is important to understand that they don’t “treat” your child’s fever, so much as make it easier for them to get through a fever. Technically, it is entirely safe to not treat a fever.

Click Here to read all about how the brain’s thermostat function and what it goes through during a fever.

Myth 5:

My child seems keen on being active and running around. But, the last temperature I took read 37.7 °C [100°F]. This obviously means my child has a fever.

Temperatures between 37.1°C to 37.8°C [98.7 °F -100 °F] are not considered to be febrile. This is the normal range within which human body temperature operates, being the lowest soon after waking up in the morning and peaking towards late afternoon/evening. Moreover, there is small, but significant variation in each child’s natural temperature response to infection. What’s fever for your child might be 0.5 degrees off from the mean. So, it is wise to not get too particular about temperature readings and instead base your assessment on how your child looks, acts and if their energy levels seem intact.

It is only at a temperature range of 37.7 °C - 38.8 °C [100 °F- 102 °F] that we can classify the spike as a “low grade fever”. Anything lower than this falls inside the normal temperature range, and can be accounted for by normal, diurnal variation.

About the author

Vemund Kval Bakken

Chief Technical Officer

Vemund is the chief technology officer and co-founder for ONiO. He is responsible to set the long term technical direction and make sure that novel solutions are applied in our products. And make sure when ideas are novel enough that they are added to a growing IP portfolio.

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