As a pharmacist, I witness the fear and frustration of many parents when their children get sick. One of the most common symptoms every parent deals with is fever. As a new Mom, I sympathize with all the first-time Moms out there, and I understand how frightening your child’s fever can be. I hope that by understanding a few simple facts about fever and how to treat it, the next time your child is feverish, you will have some peace of mind.
Your baby can’t tell you when he or she doesn’t feel well, but a fever is the body’s way of letting you know that something is wrong. A fever can be caused by many things, but the most common cause is an infection. Infections can be bacterial or viral, and it is often difficult to tell the difference. When your baby has a bacterial infection, your pediatrician will usually prescribe an antibiotic. For viral infections, normally all we can do is let them run their course. Fever is a sign that the body’s immune system is working to fight off infection. However, there are still many things we can do to manage the fever. Our goals are to bring the fever down, prevent dehydration, and make your little one more comfortable while his or her body’s immune system is doing its work.
A low-grade fever is generally considered to be any temperature less than 100°F, which you don’t always have to treat. However, there are certain levels of fever that should signal to you to call the doctor.
Call the doctor if:
You should always follow your pediatrician’s instructions on treating your baby’s fever. Many fevers can be treated with home care. Here are some recommendations and information on how to bring your baby’s fever down with over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. Treating your Baby’s Fever
One of the safest and most popular medicines to treat fever in children is Tylenol®. The generic name for Tylenol® is acetaminophen. Acetaminophen helps reduce fever by signaling the brain to adjust the body’s thermostat.
Acetaminophen is available in concentrated infant drops, liquid, melt away tablets, and suppositories for children. The infant drops are recommended for children up to about 24 lbs and 2 years of age. Please ask your pediatrician for a dosing chart for acetaminophen.
Use caution when dosing the infant drops, because they are more concentrated than the children’s liquid or elixir form. A good habit to get into is to write the amount and time of each dose on a piece of paper to prevent overdosing.
Another safe and effective treatment to help reduce your baby’s fever is infant Motrin®. The generic name for Motrin® is ibuprofen. Ibuprofen also works by signaling the brain to adjust the body’s temperature.
Ibuprofen is available in concentrated infant drops, suspension, and chewable tablets for children. The infant drops are also recommended for children up to about 24 lbs and 2 years of age. This medication should only be used in infants 6 months and older. Check with your pediatrician before administering this medicine.
It is very important to remember to never give your baby any product with aspirin in it. I know the bottle says “Children’s Aspirin” but it should not be given to children unless specifically prescribed by your pediatrician. When given to children, aspirin can cause a rare, but fatal disease called Reye Syndrome.
When you and your healthcare provider are trying to determine the correct dose for your baby, it is normally based on weight and age. It is also important to remember that infants are not just small adults. We can’t assume that children will react the same way as adults, which is why you should always be sure about the amount of medicine before giving it to your baby.
Never use household droppers, spoons or cups to administer medicine to your baby. Always use the enclosed dropper or syringe provided with the medicine to ensure accurate dosing. If you lose it or don’t have one, ask your pharmacist for a replacement.
Giving medicine to babies can sometimes be a little tricky. If you are lucky, your baby will easily suck the medicine out of the dropper. If you are having trouble getting the medicine to go into his or her mouth and stay in there, you can try aiming the dropper to either side of the cheek. This might help your baby swallow the medicine more easily. Medication pacifiers are also available, but make sure to accurately measure the medicine with the enclosed dropper before placing it in the pacifier. Finally, try giving your baby the medicine before a scheduled feeding, unless taking the medicine with food is required. Many babies will gobble up anything if they are hungry.
It is important to read all medication labels carefully. If you have any questions, you can ask your pharmacist. There are many 24 hour pharmacies with a pharmacist on staff to help you whenever needed. You can also contact the nearest children’s hospital or other local hospital and ask to speak to the pharmacy. If you are not sure about dosing your child with any medication, ask your pharmacist. We are here to help!