22 answers

Fevers - Is It Better to Let It Run Its Course or Keep It down with Motrin??

My little boy woke up yesterday saying he felt sick. Sure enough, he was hot (had 102 temperature). All day long he was a model patient, sleeping/snoozing, or sitting on a chair watching his dad work in the garage. I didn't keep him on motrin all day long because I've heard that it is better to let the fever run its course (as long as not too high, of course. His ranged from 101 to 102 each time I checked). When he's feeling better from the effects of motrin, he's doing more, when he's not, he just wants to sleep and sip cool water and I feel his body gets more rest that way. I did give him motrin but not constantly. He is still sick today, another 102 reading this morning.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks everyone! I pretty much let it run its course, did give motrin occasionally (as in once each day) and Sunday afternoon (2nd day) he was up and about, acting normally & feeling fine except for the cough bothering his throat. This morning I got him up for school and he had 100.8 (no fever last night) so I kept him home from school. He is acting just fine today, no snoozing so he's definitely on the mend and going to school tomorrow.
I have been giving him decongestant (and occasionally the motrin if he complains of a headache or feeling awful) and making sure he kept sipping water & gatorade, mostly water, and eating. I also have an ice bag (you know the old fashioned cloth covered rubber bag with screw on top that you set on your head??) that he put to use a couple times for his comfort. His school nurse said the fever & cough virus is going around his school.

More Answers

If the child isn't horribly uncomfortable, you should let the fever run its course. The viruses and bacteria that make us sick usually function best at our normal body temperature. So, one of our body's best defenses is to raise the body temperature; a fever is not just a symptom of an infection, it's actually a pretty effective weapon that our body uses to treat itself. Most of the illnesses that we get are caused by viruses (colds and flus are both viral), which cannot be fought with antibiotics, so we should do our best to help our bodies fight those infections.

Generally, as long as the fever is below 102, I try not to give my kids anything to bring it down. Above 102 or so when they start becoming more uncomfortable, I give something and/or give a warm bath, which, because of the evaporation off of the skin, will help bring the temperature down a couple of degrees.

Some worry about febrile seizures, but they are pretty rare, and strongly genetic. No one in my family has had them, but I have a family friend that has them in her family, and all 4 of her children has had a febrile seizure. The seizures aren't generally harmful, though, and all of her children are now healthy adults. If you haven't seen febrile seizures in any of you family, you most likely don't have to worry about them.

Dr. Greene has a pretty good article on fever treatment at:


What does your doctor say? I will let a low grade fever go, as long as they are not uncomfortable. I would ask your doctor what they think of 102' for the second day in a row.

If you don't keep fevers down...they can spike up and the child can have seizures.

Hi there,
It's better to let fevers run their course if you can. When it does get to 102, I would give motrin just like you did. If it stays below that, then just keep fluids down him. Fevers are our bodies way of 'burning' the bacteria/viruses out of our body. Getting rid of them. With my son, if his fever is 102, I do just what you do. I give motrin. I check him again in 6-8 hours, and if he has a fever again, the same temp, then I give him another dose. I usually don't give more than two doses a day. once in the morning, and once at bedtime so he can rest better.
If his temp gets above 104, then take him to the E.R..

My ER doc told me as long as I can keep the temp down, controlling it with Motrin/Tylenol, cool compresses etc., then he will be fine. But if I cannot get the temp down within a half hour, then something else is going on, and needs to be brought in.

Hope this helps, and hope your little guy feels better soon. OH, PS: With a temp that high, NO MILK. Milk will curdle in the tummy with a high temp. Just keep him drinking juice, apple, or punch etc.

Sounds like everyone is in agreement, let it runs it's course. The fever is what is fighting off the infection. If they are comfortable, I don't give it to them. If they are irratable and very achy I do. Also, if it is very high, over 104, I would give them a dose to bring it down. I almost always give them a dose before bed though.

My middle child had febrile convulsions (seizures) with a fever, and it is definitely the scariest thing to watch and then to have her not start breathing again on her own. I always use Tylenol/Motrin for anything over 100. The fever is a signal that his body is fighting an infection, but whether you let it go or treat it with over the counter medicines does not affect how long it will last or how quickly the body will fight the illness. It only affects the comfort of your child. It would be a good idea to take your son to the doctor to check for strep if the fever continues into day 3.

You can't really make a fever really leave; it's there for a reason - to fight the bad guys in the body of your little one. However, you can and should make him comfortable. I prefer Tylenol or Ibuprofen, with the OK of their pediatrician. I also buy these cool patches (they actually get cold when the backing comes off) on their forehead - works like a wet washcloth but they can keep it on for a long time and even sleep with it on. Of course, Pedialyte and LOTS of water will help move it along, too.

But I vote for doing what I can to keep my kids comfortable so all thier energy can be for getting better. Lots of hugs help, too. I've been using a temporal thermometer - it is gentle and works like the one in the Dr. office. My kids are ill right now, and my little guy had a temp of almost 105 a couple of weeks ago, got better last week and is back up to 102.4 today. Dr. thought it was viral, but I got a notice of a huge strep issue in his classroom, so I wouldn't be surprised if the Dr. finds he has strep tomorrow. I just hope my 3 year old doesn't get it! She already has a sinus infection we just can't get rid of.

Good luck, and see what your ped says; then you can choose to agree to disagree. I like Tylenol better for fever, but will give them Ibuprofen at night, since it lasts twice as long. I'm told this thing needs to just run its course, (unless they find evidence of a bacterial infection, which is possible) but just to keep them comfortable.

Hope your little man is better soon.

If there are fevers consecutive days there is another issue. Fevers cook germs but they will also start cooking your insides as well, including the brain. There are a lot of homeopathic remedies, like vicks on the feet and a few others that I can't remember. I think over 100 you should medicate.

I've heard both. My ped always says Tylonol or Motrin, but I go to a natural doc that says don't do it. Our bodies are made to fight through those kinds of things and all the medicine does is interfere with the body's healing process. I always put a cool wash cloth on my kids' heads and that usually makes them feel better. If his fever lasts more than a few days and he has other symptoms like coughing I would take him in to see someone though. It could be something else, especially this time of year.

You should be alternating Motrin and Tylenol. Too much of either isn't good. Make sure that you're giving the dose according to their weight and if the label says to consult your pediatrician, do so. You'll also want to check with your doctor and see how many hours you should go in between each dose. Also, make sure you don’t give him the Motrin on an empty stomach or he will throw it up. Our daughter had over a 103 temperature last week and we ended up in the ER because even though we were following the dosages on the Tylenol and Motrin bottles, we weren't giving her enough for her weight and the fever wouldn't come down.

If the fever is over 100 then you need to keep it down. If it is a small fever 99 to 100 let it try and run its course but keep track that it doesnt get any higher.

Fevers are your bodies way of fighting the germs. They are good for you. There is nothing wrong with a fever of 102, especially if your child doesn't sem overly uncomfortable with it. Lying down and sipping cold liquid is GOOD for him, his body needs rest in order to heal. (As long as he keeps geting liquid in him he should be fine) As an alternative to giving him meds to bring down his fever, if you feel the need to do so, you can go to the drug store, or the pharmacy section of the grocery store or walmart and pick up a product called " Be Kool" they are gel sheets that stick to your childs forehead. They are non medicated and work wonderfully. My daughter can not take tylenol etc..... when she has a fever, so these are what we use when her fever does get too high, or she's very uncomfortable.

W.H. make sure he doesn't have a ear infection.


Hi, W.H.
Sorry your little one isn't feeling well. My pediatrician is of the opinion that a mild to moderate fever should be allowed to run its course. In those instances, he says give tylenol/motrin only for comfort. If your child doesn't seem too uncomfortable and is sleeping and drinking, let the fever do its job. A high fever should be treated, and a pediatrician consulted, especially if you think there is a chance your child may become dehydrated. Hope he's well soon!

I have let the fevers run their course. A lot of people get freaked out by fevers...but they are the bodies response to invaders. If you continue to medicate before the body can build more anti-bodies, it becomes less efficient at healing itself the next time. My son runs high fevers....106 to 107. He lays around and sleeps. He is usually up and running a lot quicker when we don't give him ibuprofen.

I have one son who gets sick at least 3 times a year and usually runs a fever. I alternate motrin with tylenol and place cool wash cloths under his arm pits and at the back of his neck along with the back of his knees.

With a fever you are trying to fight an infection!

Take Care!

In my opinion I let it run it's course. Like you said the drug hides the pain and it doesn't let the body naturally fight the infection. Just like an injury if you mask the pain, you'll use that body part and then it will not heal correctly because you've used it too much without paying attention to it.
I read a long time ago that there is a potential cause for cancer by using medications to bring fevers down.
I don't know if that's true, yet for me, 102 isn't high and I'd ride it out letting the body do what it needs to do. Definitely push liquids, juices and recharge to avoid dehydration.
good luck

What about trying a homeopathic remedy? Belladonna is great for bringing down fevers. I'd recommend a 30C potency. Give 3 to 5 pellets, wait 15 minutes and then give again. Wait about 30 minutes and check his temp. Give it up to four times a day. This will help the body bring the illness out WITH the fever rather than suppress it with Motrin. I think that is what you're trying to accomplish.
There are some great books out there. All the homeopaths seem to recommend Everybody's Guide to Homeopathy for us parents. It's an easy read.
The best homeopathic college in the nation is right here in Phoenix. If you need a Classical Homeopath (CCH), try there.
Good luck,


I will tell you what I do with my kids. I let the fever run it's course until it reaches 104. The heat kills the virus. If it reaches to 104 try putting him in a cool ginger bath. That usually will bring my sons temperature down a bit without putting drugs into his system. Just an alternate way if you don't want to use the Motrin.

D. P.

I've been told to let the fever run it's course, unless it gets above 102 with my 2 year old. He was pretty sick two weeks ago with a fever and he laid around and slept for the most part. I just kept tabs on it - and did give him some tylenol during the night when he just couldn't rest and that helped.

If my kids' fevers aren't too high then I don't give motrin unless at night so they can sleep better. I have heard also that it is better not to give motrin so the fever can do it's job. When you give medicine it supresses the fever & then the fever can't work properly. Hope that helps. :) Hope your son feels better soon!

I would take him to the doctor after tomorrow if he is still running a fever because that would be about 3 days. If your not able to break it tomorrow then most likely there is something causing the fever. Like maybe an ear infection. My son just recently went through that same thing and after 3 days we was not able to break his temp. So I took him to his doctor and he ended up haveing Bronchitis. We had the same thing in mind with letting it runs its course but after 3 days he may need something other than motrin to help fight off his fever. Hope this helps, good luck.


Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.