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Common Fever Misconceptions – Fact or Fiction?

Children get fever often, and parents often seek medical care when a fever occurs. But there are many misconceptions about fever that cause parents unnecessary anxiety. The good news is that most fevers are not dangerous. And children with fever can usually be safely treated at home. Here are five facts about fevers that every parent and caregiver should know. 

  1. Fevers are not dangerous. 

A fever can be uncomfortable for your child. But it is not dangerous. A fever is a sign that your child’s immune system is working to fight infection. That’s a good thing! Many fevers are caused by a virus and will get better on their own. Sometimes, a fever is a sign that your child should be evaluated for an issue that may need treatment – but the fever itself does not pose a danger to your child. 

  1. If your child is warm, it doesn’t always mean they have a fever.

The body’s temperature varies throughout the day and body temperature depends on many factors. If the thermometer shows your child’s temperature is 99°F, that is not considered a fever. A fever is typically defined as a temperature greater than 100.4°F. The best way to take your child’s temperature? Under the tongue or armpit. For babies, a rectal temperature will be most accurate.

  1. A higher fever does not mean your child is more seriously ill.   

There is actually no difference between a fever of 100.4°F and a fever of 104°F. A higher temperature does not make it more likely that a child has a bacterial infection rather than a virus. Pay close attention to how your child looks and acts. That is a better indication of how sick they are than the number you see on the thermometer.

  1. Fevers can come and go. 

If your child’s fever goes away but then comes back a day or two later, don’t panic. With many viral illnesses, fevers can reoccur after a few days. This does not necessarily mean your child is getting sicker.  

  1.  Treating your child with over-the-counter medicine is safe. 

If your child is uncomfortable due to fever, you can give them acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Babies under 6 months old should not take ibuprofen. And baby aspirin should NOT be taken unless prescribed by a doctor. Be sure to use the right dosage for your child’s age and weight. Here are some helpful dosing tables:

If your child is under 6 months and/or is immunocompromised, you should call your doctor. You should also call the doctor if your child has a fever over 104°F or a fever of 101°F or higher that lasts for more than 72 hours. If your child has trouble breathing, is not urinating at least once every 6 hours, or is not responding as they should be, you should seek care right away. 

We can help

Imagine Pediatrics is here to improve the health and lives of children with medical complexity and special health care needs. We provide virtual health care 24/7. So you can get support for your child anytime without leaving your home. We do not replace your child’s doctors. We team up with them to give your child medical, behavioral, and social care and support whenever they need it. Learn more about how we can help at or call us 833-208-7770.

Unlimited 24/7 access to your care team via messaging, phone call, or video visit using our mobile app.

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