Expert Advice -- 7 Ways to Fight a Fever

If your child has had a fever for a long time, it's natural to feel worried. Learn when it's time to see your doctor and what you can do help make your kid more comfortable in the interim.

Fever is, by and large, the most common concern of patients who visit a pediatrician's office. It is not a disease and usually is not harmful. In fact, it's one of the body's defense mechanisms to fight off infections. So think of fever as helpful and not harmful, and you will be less anxious when your child has a febrile illness. Here's what you should do when your child has a fever:

• First rule: Only treat a fever if the child looks or feels ill. Many viruses cause high fevers that are not bothersome. In such cases, just let the body do its work.

• No studies demonstrate that treatment of fever decreases the incidence of febrile seizures. However if your child is lethargic, listless or irritable, treatment is suggested.

• Standard medical treatment includes fever reducers such as Tylenol or panadol every four hours, or ibuprofen -- Motrin or Advil -- every six hours. The dosage depends on the child's weight and not on his or her age.

Although these medicines are over-the-counter, if they're not used properly, serious side effects can occur, such as gastrointestinal bleeding or liver toxicity. So only use as needed and please consult a physician if you are unsure about the dosage.

• If the fever is very high -- higher than 105 degrees -- sponging with tepid water will help lower it. However, when sponging is used as the only treatment, the body temperature quickly returns to its previous level.

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