28 answers

Break a Fever or Not??

I feel like there are a lot of conflicting opinions online regarding giving tylenol/motrin for a fever or leaving it alone letting it "do its job." I have friends who swear that giving fever meds helps their child hear faster but shouldn't it be the other way around? Fevers in general do not "scare" me as my son is a high fever child (regularly gets in the 104s and low 105s) and my girls never go past the high 103s but I am just trying to figure out what is best for her body. What do you mamas do? For reference, I am referring to a 5 year old with a viral illness (semi-dry cough and a little nasal congestion) with a fever that is around 102. I have been giving umcka and sambucol to hopefully shorten the duration, pushing fluids and having her rest. She is currently asleep. I need her to get over this thing ASAP because I cannot miss work again tomorrow! :/

Just to clarify, I am not meaning that I am going to send her to school. I am referring to the fact that my MIL is only comfortable watching her if she does not have a fever. :) Thx again!

Ok people, please back off of my "cannot miss work again" sentence!! I did not mean or every say that I would ever send her to school with a fever, I am a school teacher myself!! Geez! I even reiterated that in the sentence I added, and you guys are STILL responding as if I am going to send her to school sick. People are so quick to jump down someone's throat on this site!!!!

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I only treat a fever if the fever is making them too uncomfortable to rest, otherwise I let the fever do its job and fight the infection.

2 moms found this helpful

I don't give either of my kids meds when they have a fever unless they seem to be in pain. My kids mostly sleep when they have a fever...why would I want to mess that up???? LOL

2 moms found this helpful

I look more at how they are behaving and feeling more than I do the number on the thermometer. I do not automatically jump to giving Tylenol if they begin running a fever.
If they begin to complain of a bad headache or something along those lines then I certainly do give something. If they are in discomfort but it's something they can manage on their own, I just leave it alone and let it do it's think. My kids get better faster when I let things be as much as possible. It runs longer when I give them a lot.
Pain meds/fever reducers have their time and place but they can easily be over used.

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It depends on how they are acting - if they're miserable/uncomfortable I give them meds.

5 moms found this helpful

A fever is part of the body's immunologic response to infection, which can be bacterial, viral, or parasitic, but can also stem from an autoimmune response (as in some autoimmune diseases, such as Crohn's) or be in response to other disease processes or severe injuries (such as cancer, compound fracture, etc.) As one mom mentioned, antipyretics such as tylenol and ibuprofen don't "break" a fever -- they merely interrupt that part of the immune cascade responsible for releasing chemical signals that tell the body's thermostat to turn up the heat.

That being said, that response does serve some purpose, in that (at least in theory) the increased body temperature makes the internal environment less hospitable to the invading organism. However, most invaders are not substantially affected by the small increase in temperature seen with a fever. The rest of the actions of the immune system (induction of antibody response, targetting of killer T-cells, macrophages, dendritic cells, etc.) are largely unaffected by the actions of tylenol and ibuprofen. So, if you use these drugs to bring down the fever so a person feels better, it's really not going to affect how rapidly the person's immune system will fight off the infection.

Not that it will help your mom's attitude any, but bringing down the fever also doesn't affect whether or not your child is still infectious (which is what I'm guessing your mom is concerned about). In fact, as long as she's running a fever, without knowing exactly what the infectious agent is, it's a good bet that she's still contagious. In any case, most of these medications have only short-term action, so your mother would still have to re-administer the drug within 4 - 6 hours of the last time you give your child the meds. One thing to consider when giving antipyretics to a child (or anyone, for that matter), is whether or not the fever is so high that it could cause it's own problems. Even a "high burner" like your son runs the risk of having febrile convulsions with a fever above 102 deg. F., although if your son is over the age of 3 and has not suffered a febrile seizure with a fever of 104 or 105, he's not likely to experience one now. In any case, febrile seizures may be a bit scary, but rarely cause any actual injury (unless the child falls or chokes as a result of the seizure.

My person opinion is that, unless the person has had a negative reaction to an antipyretic drug, there's no reason to deny them the relief these drugs can deliver. Just make sure to follow the dosage directions correctly to avoid potential toxicity.

I hope your little one is on her feet again soon. With a virus, expect the duration of the illness to last 7 - 10 days.

4 moms found this helpful

i'm firmly in the 'let the fever do its job' camp, treating with blankets or cool cloths as the fever dictates. you already know the danger zones for your kids, so you're ahead of the game. i'd do exactly what you're doing, and keep your fingers crossed for tomorrow.
ETA i didn't see any down-the-throat jumping. did some posts get pulled?
i just wanted to add that i do think it's fine to give meds to help with the comfort factor if the child is miserable. but i don't try to hurry the fever along.

4 moms found this helpful


I have to agree with the other parents so far! Kiddo needs to be home again tomorrow...

Also, as a former director of a child development center, NOTHING ticked me off more than a parent who 'masked' the symptoms of an obviously 'not well' child, and brought the sick kiddo in. Was a sure fire recipe for other kiddos to 'catch' the bug.

I hope you have a back up plan. I know it is hard.




I certainly did not mean to tick you off!!

You sure seem a little sensitive regarding this topic...

3 moms found this helpful

You'll be home tomorrow.

The fever itself isn't actually fighting anything. The fever is a symptom of a fight going on at a cellular level. Reduction of that symptom is sometimes necessary for the safety of the patient.

The rule of thumb in hospitals is 101'F or higher in children, 103'F or higher for adults should be given the appropriate dose of fever reducer for thier weight. The reason for this is that fevers above those temperatures can spike extremely quickly, causing febrile seizures in children, which can result in permanent brain damage. Even with a fever reducer, the fever will usually remain low-grade (around 99-100'F), which is safe and shows the body is still fighting.

Please do not send your child to school until she is without fever for 24 hours.

ETA: Also, Tenpenny, Mercola, Oz and other shills for "alternative medicine," vitamin and supplement companies are known for distorting facts about medicine and vaccine. I wouldn't take any article on their sites seriously. In the medical community, we have a term for alternative medicine that has actually been proven to work.....we call it MEDICINE. If it's still called "alternative medicine," it's yet unproven.

3 moms found this helpful

The fever doesn't have a job, it is a symptom of the body doing its job. Reducing the fever doesn't slow the process that is causing the fever it just keeps the body able to continue the process so yes, reducing the fever should help the body fight. Much easier to rest if you are not burning up. Less risk of the fever spiking and causes seizures and even brain damage.

There is no upside to withholding fever reducing medicine.

3 moms found this helpful

If the fever is not deemed dangerous by my Dr. I typically allow it to break. You can send a child to school, unless they are fever free for 24 hours. (UNmedicated fever free. Not, medication taking the fever down.) Can you hire a sitter? 102 fever shows that she is still ill, and the fever breaking does not mean she is well enough to attend school. Either you bring someone over, or you miss work. There aren't any other choices here, sorry.

I do tend to give some tylenol, at least once. He doesn't need to lay here aching and uncomfortable.

3 moms found this helpful

102 deserves Tylenol or Motrin. Looks like you are home tomorrow.

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