Use pain relievers the right way to reduce fever

By Dr. Karen Agnew

We’ve heard “Feed a cold, starve a fever” for as long as we can remember. But following that traditional saying isn’t the best advice to reduce your child’s temperature.

Fevers — especially a child’s first one — can cause worry and anxiety in parents. It’s important to remember that fever is common and a positive sign that the body is fighting off an infection. With the advice below, you’ll guide your child through the fever and back to normal activities soon.

What’s a normal temperature?

Your child’s normal temperature can vary, depending on age, activity level and time of day. However, we consider these temperatures to be normal:

  • Oral reading: 99° F (37.2° C) or less
  • Rectal reading of 100.4° F (38° C) or less

How to treat a fever

You probably take acetaminophen or ibuprofen, but which one should you give your child? Cincinnati Children’s Liberty, Mason and Springdale Primary Care, along with the American Academy of Pediatrics, believe that both usually are safe and effective ways to soothe your child. (We recommend not giving ibuprofen to children under 6 months.)

When you give your child either of these nonprescription medications in their pediatric formulas, the most important thing is to read and follow label directions. Provide doses based on your child’s age and weight, using only the measuring device that comes with the medicine.

Also, be sure to check the ingredients of cough and cold medications before dispensing them. Don’t give two medicines with the same ingredient to prevent simultaneous dosage.

When to call Cincinnati Children’s Liberty, Mason and Springdale Primary Care:

In addition to ibuprofen or acetaminophen, encourage plenty of appropriate fluids — breast milk, formula, water — to prevent dehydration. Call us if your child:

  • Has a fever above 104° F (40° C)
  • Has a temperature above 100.4° F (38° C) and is younger than 12 weeks
  • Is not responding to normal dosing of acetaminophen or ibuprofen
  • Seems to be getting worse
  • Has a fever longer than 24 hours and is younger than age 2
  • Has a fever longer than 3 days and is older than age 2

For more information

At Cincinnati Children’s Liberty, Mason and Springdale Primary Care, we are here for you and your family every step of the way. Check out our website Resources and follow us on Facebook or call us at 513-336-6700.