A hot child requires a cool parent. An old saying that rings true among pediatricians.
“The first thing you need to do is look analytically the situation,” says Dr. Nancy Witham, pediatrician with Lee Memorial Health System.
When the mercury rises, mother of two Marlene McCleary tries to keep a level head.
“As long as they stay low. Anything above 102.5 is usually a sign that I definitely need to take them to the doctor,” says Marlene McClearly, mom.
Despite moms and dads feeling the heat, not every fever requires a doctor visit.
“We like to know about fevers over 103.5 to 104. Anything above that often can be associated with a more significant infection,” says Dr. Witham.
Most fevers can be handled at home. That means navigating the world of over-the-counter medications. It’s important to remember, never use aspirin and always use products that are made for children.
“The dose for those medications is based on your children’s weight and if you’re not sure or if it says ‘under the age of two please call a physician’ please call your doctor’s office because we do have the dosage calculated, based on the weight,” says Dr. Witham.
Doctors recommend acetaminophen products like Tylenol and ibuprofen ones like Motrin, or both.
“I usually give them Motrin more commonly and then I alternate it with Tylenol,” says McClearly.
It’s called layering. Motrin is effective for 6-8 hours. Tylenol is effective for 4 hours. Many parents will overlap them, but is that safe?
“They’re chemically different enough that each can follow along with their own schedule. We know it’s effective and actually slightly more effective to give both medications. So if you wanted to make a chart for yourself and do one of them every 4 hour schedule the other on every 6 hour schedule that’s what many people do,” says Dr. Witham.
Fever reducers should drop your child’s temp a degree or two, but won’t fix the underlying cause. If your child has additional symptoms they may need to see a doctor.