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Why Your Child’s Fever Isn’t Going Down and What You Are Doing Wrong

Children with fever account for as many as 20% of pediatric emergency department visits. Any illnesses can cause stress on a family, but fever and the inability to control their child’s temperature brings thousands of family to the emergency room. Over the past couple months, I spend a significant part of my ER shift treating pediatric fever and flu-like symptoms. Today I am partnering with KnowYour OTCs to go over fever and temperature control, as I find it creates a lot of stress for my parents! Most of the time when a parent brings their child to the emergency room with a fever it is because they are having a difficult time controlling the temperature. I am sure most of you have had the experience of giving ibuprofen or acetaminophen to your child and within 3 hours the fever is back. You are now asking yourself, “what do I do now?”  So, today we are going to breakdown fever and go over some important tips to ease some of your fears. I’m going to tell you why your child’s fever isn’t going down.

1. Fever Phobia!! It is important to understand that fever is the body’s natural way of fighting off infection. It actually is a good sign that your body’s immune system is strong and having an appropriate response. Many parents feel that a high temperature can cause damage to the brain or body, which is not the case. There are many reasons why your child can have a fever, some as simple as a virus. However, it can make us feel very uncomfortable causing our children to have decreased activity and oral intake. Treat your child’s symptoms and not a number. If your child is happy and playful, even with a fever, it might not be necessary to treat the fever. If your child is down and uncomfortable, consider treating their fever with fever reducing medications, as it will make them more comfortable and willing to drink fluids.

2.  Are you sure it is a fever?  Your little one might feel warm but not necessarily have a fever. A child’s temperature will vary through out the day and with different activity level. Most children will be the highest later in the afternoon into early evening. It is important that if you feel your child might have a fever, to take their temperature. The most accurate way to take the temperature is with a rectal temperature.

The following are considered a fever 

  • Rectal reading of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) or above.
  • Oral reading of 99 degrees Fahrenheit (37.2 degrees Celsius) or above.

3. The most common reason why your child’s fever isn’t going down. More often than not, the reason your child’s temperature isn’t going down is because you aren’t dosing it accordingly. 1 in 5 parents of young children believe using a household spoon is okay for measuring OTC medicines.  Before offering your child an OTC pain reliever, remember to always read the drug facts label first to ensure correct dosage and to make sure you aren’t double dosing because some cold and flu OTCs contain acetaminophen. According to a study conducted by the National Institute for Health (NIH), 8 out of 10 parents have given the wrong dose of liquid medicine by accident. Only use the dosing device that comes with the medicine to ensure proper dosing. Never ever use a kitchen spoon – it is never appropriate to substitute for the dosing device that comes with the medicine.  Find more tips on safe dosing here. And remember to dose your child based on their weight, not their age.

4.  Both Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen Can Be Used To Treat Fever. Ibuprofen is a medication that can only be given every six hours. If you give ibuprofen and three hours later your child has a fever again, you should try giving acetaminophen . It is important to understand that ibuprofen works differently than acetaminophen. They both can and should be used to control fever.  With a high fever, it is best to alternate ibuprofen and acetaminophen every 3 hours. If you decide to alternate between these two medicines, make sure you are keeping track of dosage and time. Make sure you start with one medicine and then offer the other medicine next, about 3-4 hours later.  Click here for a helpful dosing chart based on child’s weight, for ibuprofen and acetaminophen.

 Important Tip! When you bring your child to the pediatrician for their annual checkup, ask the nurse or doctor to calculate the right dose of ibuprofen or tylenol for your child according to their weight. If your child doesn’t respond to fever-reducing medicine, check with your doctor to make sure you are giving the appropriate dose. Most importantly, schedule an appointment with your doctor to have your child evaluated.


I’m proud to take part as a blogging ambassador with the CHPA (Consumer Healthcare Products Association) Educational Foundation and This is a Sponsored Post! While I Have Received Compensation From The CHPA Educational Foundation, All Opinions Are My Own. 

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