MONDAY, Feb. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Few things send a parent's fears soaring as quickly as a child's rapidly rising temperature.
But, a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) attempts to allay those fears by reminding parents that a fever is usually just the body's natural response against illness, and that lowering a fever may actually prolong an illness.
The AAP recommends that, in general, parents only treat a fever if it's making their child feel uncomfortable.
"Fever is one of the most common reasons that parents contact pediatricians and health-care providers. Parents have concerns, and there are a lot of myths about bad things that can happen with a fever," said the report's lead author, Dr. Janice Sullivan, a professor of pediatric clinical care and clinical pharmacology at the University of Louisville School of Medicine and Kosair Children's Hospital, in Kentucky.
"Sometimes, parents think that if they treat a fever that their child will get better faster, but fever is a sign of illness, and it's the body's way of slowing the germs down to help get rid of them. Fever is one of the triggers that your body uses to produce more white cells. If you bring a fever down, your child may not produce as many white cells to fight the infection," she explained.
"Families need to remember that when a child has a fever, it's a symptom, not the primary problem. Fever may be beneficial, so parents should really look at what's causing the fever, not the fever itself," suggested Dr. Basil Zitelli, a pediatrician at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.
The AAP report, which is published in the March issue of Pediatrics, suggests that instead of focusing on the number on the thermometer, parents should let their child's behavior be a guide for whether or not to give fever-reducing medications.
"If your child is eating and drinking well, a
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