Do you know what your normal body temperature is? Should you bathe in cool water if you have a fever? See how much you know about fevers by taking this simple quiz”
True or False? You can tell if someone has a fever by touching their skin.
False. Parents often come into the clinic saying that their child has a fever. When you ask them how they know, they say, “He felt warm.” I know it seems like a reliable way to determine whether someone has a fever, but in reality, it isn’t foolproof. If you think you or child has a fever, you really must confirm it by taking the temperature with a thermometer. A study from India looked at 200 kids and found that 60% of those who had skin that felt hot to the touch, did NOT actually have a fever. So you really must use a thermometer to know for sure.
True or False? Normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees.
True. 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit is an average normal body temperature, but it’s just a ballpark to keep in mind. There is a range of normal body temperatures. Most people’s normal temperatures fall within one degree higher or lower than 98.6. And your own temperature usually varies depending on the time of day. It’s lowest in the early morning and changes depending on your activity level. And in women of childbearing age, body temperature tends to fluctuate throughout their menstrual cycle reaching its peak right before ovulation.
True or False? A cold bath can actually increase your body temperature.
False. If you have a fever and you take a cold bath, you’ll lower the temperature of your skin, but you aren’t likely to change your core body or internal temperature. Instead, cold water will probably cause you to shiver, which could actually raise your temperature even more. So instead of a cold, or even hot bath, try a sponge bath with lukewarm water to help you feel better.
True or False? If you have a fever and don’t feel like lying down, you don’t have to.
True. Even if you have a fever, it’s not mandatory that you stay in bed. In all likelihood, with a fever you’re not going to feel like doing much, but if you have energy, you can move around. Just stay away from other people so you won’t make them sick as well. And certainly don’t do any strenuous activity. Take it easy.
True or False? High fevers often cause brain damage.
False. Most fevers, even as high as 104 or 105 degrees, will not cause brain damage and will not lower a child’s IQ. Prolonged fevers higher than 106 are linked with brain damage, but it’s usually the underlying disease that’s the problem. So if a child otherwise looks well, parents shouldn’t worry that their fever is going to hurt them. You simply want to lower the fever to make your child (and you) feel better. However, if your child is under 3 years of age or has symptoms that concern you, have him evaluated by his pediatrician.
True or False? All over-the-counter pain killers are good choices for reducing fever.
False. It’s true that most over-the-counter pain relievers can lower fever, but they are not all equal. First of all, even though aspirin is an effective fever-reducer, you don’t want to give it to children with fever because it can cause a rare but dangerous condition called Reyes Syndrome. Acetaminophen or Tylenol is safe for most kids and adults, but people with liver disease or people who are heavy drinkers should avoid using it. Ibuprofen, found in Motrin or Advil, is also great for fevers, but should not be taken by people with a history of stomach ulcers, bleeding disorders, kidney disease or pregnant moms. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about which medication is best for you or your child.
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