Purpose of fevers
Fevers are a sign that the body is trying to fight off an illness of some type, most often an infection. The purpose of a fever is to give your body a competitive advantage over what it’s fighting: bacteria and viruses like the flu don’t do as well at the higher temperature while your immune system is more efficient. Often a fever doesn’t require any treatment, but in some situations, you should contact your family doctor.
When to contact a Family Doctor about a Fever
You should contact a family doctor for:
- A fever 100.4° F or more in a baby age three months or under
- A fever over 102° F in children age 3-6 months
- Fevers that don’t respond to medication
- Fevers consistently over 103° F
Your family doctor may recommend that you bring the child in (or come in yourself), or he may recommend different treatments appropriate to your situation or other symptoms.
The most common way to treat fever is with over-the-counter medications. Acetaminophen (often known by its brand name Tylenol) and ibuprofen (often known by its brand name Advil) can both be effective in treating fever.
Do not exceed recommended dosages unless instructed by your family doctor. With children’s medications, make sure you check the dosage every time—concentrations of medication can vary and change the appropriate dosage. For persistent fever, you can alternate these medications, but be careful not to use other medications that also contain them. Acetaminophen, in particular, is found in many cold and cough medications, so be careful.
Treating Fever without Medications
Talk to your family doctor if you meet any of the conditions above, and it’s also a good idea to bring it up in a routine visit before you decide to do this. There are several techniques to try to keep yourself or children comfortable. Keep the air cool and dress in light clothing. Use a fan to keep air moving over the fever sufferer.
For children with an uncomfortable fever who don’t want to take medication or can’t keep it down, you can try a tepid sponge bath. Seat the child in a small amount of warm water, about 85-90° F, and sponge water over the body.
In the past, some people used rubbing alcohol to try to lower the body temperature, but this is dangerous because the alcohol can be absorbed through the skin.
If you are looking for a family doctor in Littleton who can help with fever treatment and all the other health concerns that your family faces, please call 303-703-8583 or contact Dr. Andy Fine for an appointment.