Over the years I have seen various doctors for my two children and what I considered high fevers. Two different doctors have told me differently about what a dangerous fever is. This is common among us young parents and our first reaction is to call the doctor or bring our baby.

My daughter once had a fever of 104, but it went up and down. It would go down to 100 and then go back up to 104. I was 4 years old and to avoid the embarrassment of another visit to the doctor, I did the treatments that had been recommended. When her fever had not subsided after a day, I took her to the doctor to be examined. His fever at the time was in the mid-range of 102 and he would have thought he was dying. They rushed in and questioned me as to why I would wait so long to bring it back. They made me feel so small for not overreacting. They took off his clothes and gave him some medicine with a popsicle and in 10 minutes his fever was down. They sent me home with medicine and wanted me to assure them that if the fever returned, I would take it there immediately.

I felt like a terrible mother. I had done what everyone had said and yet they treated me like a fool who didn’t care about my son. From that moment on, whenever she had a slight fever, she would take her to the office.

After my son was born 10 years later, I had learned a few things since then, but even though his fever reached 103 and I had trouble lowering it, I took him to the urgent care center to get checked.

In the emergency department they were in no rush to see him. When we finally got back, they gave him a popsicle and the doctor came in. The doctor just looks at my son and tells me that I am paranoid and that fever is a good thing. I feel stupid for saying the least and frustrated that I had no more resolution and the shame of being an overprotective mother.

You can imagine my confusion at this point. With one child I was horrible for not taking her in and with the other I was crazy for taking them in. What does one do?

I sat down and did some research on this and looked for what the consistent responses were. I then consulted my GP and he was consistent with my findings and I knew this would be a good guideline to follow.

o Fevers are generally good for fighting infections. Infections cannot survive in the heat, so having a fever can help fight infection. Parents should control the fever and make the child feel comfortable.

o Any child older than 3 months is generally safe at around 103 or less. Children under 3 months should not exceed 100.5 before calling a doctor. A fever over 103.5 can be dangerous if it lasts too long. A cold bath, popsicles, liquids, and light clothing can help cool down this temperature. In children older than 2 years you can try Tylenol or Ibuprofen for mild children. These can also be alternated every 4 hours to help fight longer fevers. However, I have learned that in most cases for a fever below 102 you don’t really need a lot of medication.

o What are the other symptoms?

o Watch your child for any other extremely unusual behavior. If the fever is the least of the symptoms, focus on the other symptoms and see a doctor at that time.

o Keep the child hydrated with liquids and popsicles. If the fever persists after a few days, call your doctor.

It’s easy to get caught up in the moment as a parent, and it’s often hard to always know what to do. I’ve learned that in general, and when in doubt, call an on-call doctor or your family nurse. They can give you simple tips to try and when to bring the child.