When my first child, Dylan, was 9 months old he developed a crazy fever. As a first time mom, I didn’t have much experience with fevers, especially one that high. As I was on the phone with my SIL asking for advice (she was more seasoned with two kids), I took his temperature and it read a whopping 105°. And, just as I felt the panic start to rise up, his eyes went blank and his body went limp.
To put it mildly, I freaked the f*ck out.
A call to 911, an ambulance ride, and several grueling hours spent in the ER later, he was diagnosed with a febrile seizure caused by a very high fever from a “non-specific viral infection.”
Treatment: Wait it out, treat for fever as necessary. Also, see cardiologist to find out exactly how many years my husband and I lost from our lifespan.
While terrifying, I look back at that horrifying night and realize that it was an incredible learning experience. When we took Dylan to a follow up appointment the following day with his Pediatrician, he said something to us that I took to heart and have repeated to myself a thousand times over the past six years.
Fevers are good.
I know, that sounds weird. Obviously, a fever isn’t something to take lightly. But it’s also not necessarily something to be afraid of, or try to get rid of simply because it’s an “evil” fever. When your kid is burning up, it’s their body’s way of trying to get rid of some sort of illness. It’s the body’s natural form of defense. And that’s not a bad thing. Turning up the heat is a way to kill whatever little organisms are making your little one sick. And while it’s horrible to watch your kid suffer from a fever, it’s generally a lot worse to watch them suffer from whatever the fever is trying to fight.
So my advice is this: Treat a fever if, and only if, it is making your child completely miserable, or is rising to unsafe levels. As a general rule, I only give my kids fever reducing meds when their fever starts to creep towards 103°. A cool washcloth on the forehead or back of the neck, coupled with a cool drink or popsicle usually works to keep them comfortable while allowing the fever to continue its fight. Lucky for me, my kids generally love to wear only their underwear, so taking off their clothes when their burning up is also one of our go-to fever “treatments.”
For more information and advice on dealing with fevers, be sure to check out Babble’s new Fever section. The term “spring fever” doesn’t only refer to our readiness for warmer outside temperatures!
Do you have a crazy fever story? What are some of the things you do to help your kids when their temperature starts to rise?