This Fevers Myth/Fact sheet is from Seattle Children’s Hospital Research Foundation. [I’ve added some other research data to give greater clarity].
Their article says:
“Many parents have false beliefs (myths) about fever. They think fever will hurt their child. They worry and lose sleep when their child has a fever. This is called fever phobia. In fact, fevers are harmless and often helpful. Let these facts help you better understand fever.”
Fevers & Febrile Seizures Facts vs. Myths
MYTH. My child feels warm, so she has a fever.
FACT. Children can feel warm for a many reasons. Examples are playing hard, crying, getting out of a warm bed or hot weather. They are “giving off heat.” Their skin temperature should return to normal in about 20 minutes. About 80% of children who act sick and feel warm do have a fever. If you want to be sure, take the temperature.
Using different types of thermometers, your child has a fever if he or she:
- Has a rectal (bottom), ear or forehead temperature: 100.4° F (38.0° C) or higher
- has an oral (mouth) temperature: 100° F (37.8° C) or higher
- Has an under the arm (armpit) temperature: 99° F (37.2° C) or higher (least accurate)
MYTH. All fevers are bad for children.
FACT. Fevers “turn on” the body’s immune system. They help the body fight infection. Normal fevers between 100° and 104° F (37.8° – 40° C) are good for (normally healthy) sick children.
MYTH. The exact number of the temperature is very important.
FACT. How your child looks and acts is what’s important. The exact temperature number is not.
MYTH. Fevers above 104° F (40° C) are dangerous. They can cause brain damage.
FACT. Fevers with infections don’t cause brain damage. Only temperatures above 107° F (41.6° C) can cause brain damage. It’s very rare for the body temperature to climb this high. It only happens if the air temperature is very high. An example is a child left in a closed car during hot weather.
U.S. National Library of Medicine MedLine Plus agrees: “Brain damage from a fever generally will not occur unless the fever is over 107.6°F (42°C). Untreated fevers caused by infection will seldom go over 105°F (40.6°C) unless the child is overdressed or in an enclosed hot place.”
MYTH. Anyone can have a seizure triggered by fever.
FACT. Only 4% of children can have a seizure with fever. A febrile seizure in children can even happen as low as 100.4°F (38°C) or above.
It’s been noted the incidence of both initial and recurrent febrile seizures is highest in children aged 14-18 months—which happens to be the same developmentally critical time period when young children receive up to nine vaccines for 13 different diseases. (source)
Since the establishment of the Vaccine Safety Datalink project, initiated by the CDC in 1990 to study adverse events after childhood immunizations, an association was reported between certain vaccinations and febrile seizures. This is what they found, and it should be common knowledge:
1. Studies by Barlow et al found a statistically significant risk of febrile seizure 8 to 14 days after administration of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.
MYTH. Seizures with fever are harmful.
FACT. These seizures are scary to watch, but they stop within 2-5 minutes. They don’t cause any permanent harm. They don’t increase the risk for speech delays, learning problems, or seizures without fever. Febrile seizures can run in families. [I agree -could this be due to MTHFR (poor methylation) among other underlying causes?]
I respectfully disagree that they don’t cause permanent harm:
Studies published over the past two decades clearly indicate that certain vaccines and vaccine combinations “independently increase a child’s risk of developing a febrile seizure.” This consistent finding has generated surprisingly little concern among most vaccine researchers, who dismiss the risk as “small.”
“Vaccinations associated with increased risk of febrile seizure include the following:
- the MMR;
- the MMR-varicella vaccine;
- the combined DTaP, and
- Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine;
- the whole-cell pertussis vaccine;
- the 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine;
- and concomitant administration of the trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine with either the 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine or the DTaP.
Despite being a higher-risk group, children receiving these vaccinations should not receive prophylactic antipyretics, as no statistically significant reduction in the rate of febrile seizures has been documented, and prophylactic antipyretic use potentially decreases the immune response to certain vaccines.” (Source)
MYTH. All fevers need to be treated with fever medicine.
FACT. Fevers only need to be treated/assisted if they cause discomfort (makes your child feel bad). Most fevers don’t cause discomfort until they go above 102° or 103° F (39° or 39.5° C).
MYTH. Without treatment, fevers will keep going higher.
FACT. Wrong, because the brain knows when the body is too hot. Most fevers from infection don’t go above 103° or 104° F (39.5°- 40° C). They rarely go to 105° or 106° F (40.6° or 41.1° C). While these are “high” fevers, they also are harmless ones. (source – Seattle Children’s Hospital)
MYTH. With treatment, fevers should come down to normal.
FACT. With treatment, most fevers come down 2° or 3° F (1° or 1.5° C).
MYTH. Once the fever comes down with medicines, it should stay down.
FACT. It’s normal for fevers with most viral infections to last for 2 or 3 days. When the fever medicine wears off, the fever will come back. The fever will go away and not return once the body overpowers the virus. Most often, this is day 3 or 4.Get my free “Vital Vaccine Info” printable e-book here!
MYTH. If the fever is high, the cause is serious.
FACT. If the fever is high, the cause may or may not be serious. If your child looks very sick, the cause is more likely to be serious.
MYTH. Oral temperatures between 98.7° and 100° F (37.1° to 37.8° C) are low-grade fevers.
FACT. These temperatures are normal. The body’s normal temperature changes throughout the day. It peaks in the late afternoon and evening. A true low-grade fever is 100° F to 102° F (37.8° – 39° C) .
SUMMARY. Keep in mind that fever is fighting off your child’s infection. Fever is one of the good guys.
Natural Ways To Lower Fever without Medication
You will find concrete ways to naturally lower temperature to keep your child comfortable while the temperature does its job in this post!