As a Chiropractor with specialization in pediatric care, I see a lot of parents worried about their kids through cold and flu season. I am going to address a few of the most common questions that I get all the time in my office.
First of all, the one thing I hear the most is, “Dr. Loehr, my son had a fever last night”. I can see the surprise in that parent’s eyes when my first reply is “Great! How high was it?” You see, most parents are worried about that child having a fever because our culture tells us, as a whole, that this is a bad thing. However, a fever is a great thing. Our bodies are designed to get warmer to fight infection. Fever kills bacteria and viruses, it helps the body eliminate toxins, and it proves to us that the immune system is working properly. In fact, without a fever, our bodies are usually unable to properly fight off infection and heal.
So, the second question is, “How high of a fever is okay?” The answer here is not as simple. First of all, if this is an infant that is 3 months old or less, if the fever surpasses 99.5 orally or 100.4 rectally, call your pediatrician immediately. However, if the child is 3 months or older, how high a fever is doesn't tell you much about how sick your child is. For instance, a simple cold or other viral infection can cause a higher fever (102°-104°F), but this doesn't usually indicate a serious problem. For kids above 3 months old, the general rule is, if the fever is 102.2 or higher; call your doctor to see if we need to see them. If there are no other symptoms present besides the fever, research shows that no treatment is necessary. If other symptoms are present, or if the fever is sustained past 48 hours, we would need to make a decision about treatment at that time. If the fever ever passes 104, you need to seek medical attention immediately. So, as a general rule, 99.5 means fever. 102.2 means call doctor. 104+ means get help quickly.
Third question: “If my child has a fever, are they contagious?” Answer: If your child has a cold or the flu, everyone that has been around them in the last 24-48 hours has been exposed. How “contagious” your child is depends more about how “healthy” everyone around them is. What I mean by that statement is this: We are all exposed to bacteria and viruses on a daily basis. Our bodies are designed to naturally defend themselves and ward off these attacks. If we are not eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep, our bodies become weak. It is at this time that our immune system cannot fight off infection. So, yes, most of the time your child is a carrier of whatever virus or bacteria they are fighting, but if everyone around them is taking care of themselves properly, you shouldn’t worry about the infection spreading.
The most common other questions I hear regarding cold and flu are usually about coughs, sinus infections, ear aches, etc. I will address these issues (and more) at a workshop on Tuesday, November 13th at 6:30 pm. I plan to give a short presentation on “Natural Treatment Options for Pediatrics”, followed by an open forum where I will answer any questions that guests have. Please call 417-887-0340 or see the checkout desk at our office to reserve your spot, Hope to see you there!