One of the most common reasons parents call our office is because their child has a fever. I do not tend to worry much about fevers unless the patient is a newborn, the fever is extremely elevated, or the fever persists for more than 5 days.
Here are some insights and recommendations I have found helpful over the years. I hope it helps you navigate fevers with more confidence!
A fever is a symptom of an infectious or inflammatory process, not an illness itself. A fever is considered a body temperature of 100.4°F or higher.
Though rarely does a fever indicate something more than a simple sign of illness, action must be taken if a documented rectal temperature of 100.5°F or higher occurs in a baby less than 8 weeks of age. Any fever in a newborn should be considered a medical emergency and immediately evaluated by a pediatric provider.
When treating a fever or other signs of illness, I recommend immediately starting the supplements listed on our wholistic “Immune Support Protocol.” Patients of our practice will find this in the “Useful Information” section of our Patient Portal; non-patients can access it through our Patreon site. I encourage people to review that article for a discussion on what symptoms are important to look for when determining if there is a significant illness.
It is important to differentiate between a viral and bacterial infection since there is no role for antibiotics in treating a viral infection. If medical providers want to prescribe antibiotics for a fever, I would ask why they believe the symptoms are being caused by a bacterial infection as opposed to a viral infection.
My general rule of thumb is to not treat a fever with medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil/Motrin). Studies show that symptoms can resolve one day sooner if the fever is left untreated. My theory is that the body creates a fever as part of the infection-fighting response, so when possible, we should let the body do what it is trying to do. Instead, address the comfort level of the patient. For example, a child who is uncomfortable with a fever should be treated so they do not suffer, but if they are playful and in good spirits, there is no need to treat. If treating a fever is necessary, I prefer ibuprofen.
Take care and stay well!