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Debunking Old Wives' Tales: Causes for Your Child’s Fever

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Debunking Old Wives' Tales: Causes for Your Child’s Fever

Dec 04, 2017

Fevers are one of the most common reasons parents bring their kids to the doctor. It’s easy as a parent to give in to "fever-phobia" and assume that something is terribly wrong. But what is the actual reason behind your child’s fever and should you be concerned? Pediatrician Dr. Cindy Gellner talks about what really causes fevers in children.

Episode Transcript

Dr. Gellner: Fevers scare parents, but there are a lot of myths out there about what really cause fevers. I'll go over a few of them today on The Scope. I'm Dr. Cindy Gellner.

Announcer: Remember that one thing that one person told you that one time about what you should or shouldn't do when raising your kids? Find out if it's true or not. This is Debunking Old Wives' Tales with Dr. Cindy Gellner on The Scope.

Dr. Gellner: Fever phobia is something we pediatricians talk about a lot. This is when parents fear that something is seriously wrong with their child whenever their little one has a fever. The fact is the fevers are our bodies' responses to infection. These infections can be caused by anything from a mild cold or an ear infection to, much less rarely, something emergent like an abscess.

While all fevers are important to monitor, it's not how high a fever it is, but what the other symptoms your child has while they have a fever that's really important. What fevers are not caused by are environmental changes. The only fever your child will get from their surroundings would be if they are out on a really hot day and develop heat exhaustion. That's a true emergency.

Fevers are not caused by changes in the weather or changes in the season. Many viruses are seasonal, and so the different ones show up at different times of the year, most of which can cause fevers. So it's the virus causing your little one to be warm, not the weather. Same with being out in the cold without a hat or a jacket or staying out in the cold too long. All your child will get is a cold body, not a cold. Some may think that taking long showers when it's cold outside can cause a fever. Nope.

Finally, we hear all the time that a baby or toddler has a fever because they're teething. This is a myth as well. Kids get teeth at the same time that they are exposed to a lot of viruses while they build up their immune systems. It's the viruses causing their fevers, not their teeth.

Kids will get fevers, and a lot of them. But believe it or not, this is a good thing. It's meaning their immune systems are working hard. Just be on the lookout for other symptoms to see what the true causes of their fevers are, and take them to see their pediatricians if it's something concerning.

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