For first-time parents, fevers can be a daunting experience. My First Lab would like to help dispel some common misconceptions about fevers to help you navigate fevers during cold and flu season. Knowing what to do to combat a fever can help your kids manage illness during the back-to-school season!

Myth: Fevers are always bad.

Fact: Fevers often help fight infections and only cause permanent brain damage if they reach over 107 degrees.

For adults and kids, fevers typically do not cause brain damage until they reach 107 degrees. Bacteria and viruses thrive at 98 degrees, and an incremental temperature increase will usually help kill these pathogens. Despite this, a fever over 105 degrees typically does not occur unless you are experiencing a severe problem or illness. It takes a high threshold to damage the brain for children and adults. However, even minor fevers can be dangerous for newborns and infants. If a newborn has a fever over 100 degrees or a baby has one that is over 102 degrees, you should immediately consult a doctor.

Myth: Fever causes meningitis.

Fact: Fever does not cause meningitis!

A common myth is that fever causes inflammation of the brain’s membranes. However, fever is a symptom of brain inflammation conditions like meningitis or encephalitis and is not a primary cause. The root cause of brain inflammation is typically a virus, bacteria, or fungi. The only time you need to worry about fever in relation to meningitis is if you or your child are also dealing with symptoms like headache or a stiff neck.

Myth: Fevers will continue to rise without treatment.

Fact: Fevers usually will go away on their own in under three days with minimal treatment.

If a fever is under 105 degrees and not linked to a condition like cancer, it will typically lessen on its own after several days. While treating a fever may not always be necessary, it is essential to stay hydrated. Doctors believe that food intake is not as relevant as hydration despite the standard advice to “starve a fever.” Hydrating yourself as much as possible and allowing yourself to rest are the most crucial components of fever recovery.

Tips for Fever Management

You should not use ice baths or alcohol rubs as a fever treatment. These treatments cause the body to shiver, increasing your internal temperature further. Additionally, using an ice bath can send the body into shock and worsen the state of the illness you are experiencing. There are several great ways to manage fever before going to the doctor. These include taking a lukewarm bath, placing a cool washcloth on your forehead, using over-the-counter drugs, adjusting your home’s thermostat, removing heavy clothing, and continuing to drink fluids. Another way to lessen your fever is to minimize physical activity as much as possible.

For adults and children, over-the-counter medication is typically safe. However, you should always ask for your pediatrician’s advice when providing medicine for children under five. Additionally, children under 16 should never be given aspirin as a remedy for fever due to its potential link to Reye’s syndrome in developing human bodies. If your child has asthma, it is not recommended that you give them Ibuprofen as a fever treatment. It is also essential to determine the potential cause before medicating the fever. Specifying a root cause will help you determine whether antivirals or antibiotics will be more effective in lessening your fever and getting rid of the illness to blame. Speaking to your general practitioner is the best way to determine a path forward and course of action for addressing severe or recurring fevers.

Are you stuck inside due to illness or the weather? If so, check out our learning products at My First Lab. These learning products will help optimize your kid’s learning experience!

My First Lab has been a leader in developing STEM equipment for the past 30 years. With products ranging from microscopes and bundles to prepared slides and accessories, we are sure to have any product that a junior investigator, hobbyist, or educational leader could need. Learn how to create hands-on experiments by browsing our blog or checking out our award-winning products.