published Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Ask a doctor: Is it a good sign when a child runs a fever?

Dr. Tonia Cox

Q: I've heard if a child runs a fever when he or she is sick, it means they're fighting off the infection and that it's good. Last week, my 2-year-old got a low-grade fever while my mother-in-law was baby-sitting. She started giving two fever medications and put him in a cold bath "to prevent brain damage." Who's right here?

A: The presence of fever (a rectal or temporal artery temper-ature of greater than 100.4 For armpit or oral temp of greater than 99.5) usually means your child has an infection, often caused by a virus. Most fevers are good and help the body fight infection. The goal of fever medication is to bring the temperature down to a comfortable level. If your child is older than 3 months and the temperature is 102 F or less, no medication is usually needed, unless you have been instructed differently by your child's doctor. Offer cold fluids by mouth, dress your child in a light layer of clothing with a light blanket for bedtime. If your child is having other symptoms or is less than 3 months old, consult your pediatrician.

-- Dr. Tonia Cox, Pediatric Diagnostic Associates; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society

Readers: To submit a question for a medical doctor, e-mail it to Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com.

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