Fever medicines given too readily to children

(97 Posts)
flyingcloud Mon 28-Feb-11 09:51:03

Link here

Another thing for me to panic over? DD is currently sick with her second chest infection in three months. Should I just let her ride it out without help from medication?

the undertone of that articles seems to be "thick parents get it wrong" (or in other words "make sure you know what dose of which medicine you're giving to which child)

brimfull Mon 28-Feb-11 09:58:23

I only ever give medicine if they have a high temp ,over 38.5 and/or are suffering other uncomfortable symptoms like pain.

I remember saying this on a thread a few yrs ago and being shouted down by posters banging on about fits etc.

The fever helps body to fight the virus.

as for your dd , if she doesn't have a really high feveer and doesn't seem to be in pain then I don't see point of calpol/brufen.

mousymouse Mon 28-Feb-11 09:59:35

there are parents (I have heard) that give the dc fever/pain medicine everytime the child says 'ouch'. going through vast amounts of the stuff.
I usually let the fever rise to about 39, treat it first by cooling the body down with cold, wet socks and undressing the child. if the child is obviously in discomfort or pain I give medicine.
if your child is really sick, give her medicine.

ShowOfHands Mon 28-Feb-11 10:02:10

flyingcloud, I haven't read the article all the way through as I'm in a rush but a scan of it shows that it has the same message as reports that are issued periodically. It's a message they've been trying to get across for a while.

You do not need to medicate a fever in isolation. It's referring to habitual giving of anti-pyretics just because of a fever (and probably questioning what a fever is). It's good advice.

It isn't saying don't give medicine to a child who is in pain/uncomfortable. Hopefully you have antibiotics if it's an infection and of course you can give painkillers if your child is in pain. But the article is outlining the fact that a fever on its own is not in need of medication.

" that the use of anti-pyretics "should be considered in children with fever who appear distressed or unwell"."

I presume that's what the other half of parents do that don't get it wrong........

thing is though - how many parents would realise their child had a fever - unless the child was visibly distressed or unwell confused

I certainly don't go around checking my DS's temps on a regular basis to see if they have a fever on it's own with no other symptoms

ShowOfHands Mon 28-Feb-11 10:04:06

ggirl, I've been shouted down in the past too and had 'fits' shouted at me. Both of my nieces have febrile convulsions and it's the speed of temp rise, not the temp itself. In fact anti-pyretics have shown to worsen the problem for them as it artificially lowers their temp and they then vomit or shiver and the temp tries to spike, inducing a fit. Their consultant has shown them how to manage a fever without meds if possible.

ShowOfHands Mon 28-Feb-11 10:05:55

Baroque, I know when dd has a temp as she feels hot! She comes for a cuddle and you can feel the heat radiating. Plus she flushes in the face, her breathing speeds up a bit and she becomes slightly less energetic. It's quite obvious in dd even though she doesn't always feel ill at all. Plus she says 'I feel hot'. grin

I rarely use a thermometer but know when dd has a fever just by looking at her.

thingumybob Mon 28-Feb-11 10:08:25

So children have to suffer and feel ill because parent can't be trusted to give them the right dose. It's just like the medised thing all over again. FGS I hope they don't ban children from being given calpol now. Febrile convulsions are a real risk!

The advice comes after a study indicated that children given paracetemol before 15 months were more than twice as likely to develop asthma by the age of six as those not given it.

How many children get to 15 months and are never given calpol?! But it would anyway make sense that those who do end up with a diagnosis of asthma would have been more poorly more often than other children and would therefore be more likely to be given calpol. Correlation does not equal causation.

Surely most parents know how to give these medicines appropriately? I can't believe that half of all parents get it wrong?! That said I did notice that in Spain when we got some children's nurofen it had the dosage guide by weight of child and an approximate age guide, rather than just going by age which I do think would be more accurate.

ShowOfHands Mon 28-Feb-11 10:11:34

thingumybob, it isn't saying don't give meds to a sick child. It's saying don't medicate a fever in isolation.

And as I said above the risk of febrile convulsions is from the rapid rise of temperature (that can be artificially induced with medication) not the temp itself. The article is trying to explain that a fever is a natural and normal reaction to bugs and they don't require medication as a matter of course.

And my dd got to 15 months without calpol btw. I've given it fewer than 5 times in nearly 4 years.

silverfrog Mon 28-Feb-11 10:14:23

my dd2 certainly got to 15 months without Calpol (she hasn't ever had it, and is 4 now). I think dd1 did as well - she has had Calpol, but not for years now either.

I don't own a thermometer either (mind it would have only been of any use twice in the last ten years anyhow - and that's when they DS's were ill enough either to be admitted to hospital, or nearly admitted). They've been ill (especially DS1 with chest infections) lots of times, but they never have a temp with it (which is rather scary at times - once it turned out that DS1's SATS were at 88 - and he was really quite unwell - but his temp was absolutely fine shock - and no he hadn't been dosed with anything at that point.

My DS's often tell me they feel hot............but as they spend 3/4 of their time tearing around the house I have confess it would never occur to me that they could have a fever rather than just being hot iykwim?

JemimaMop Mon 28-Feb-11 10:21:17

As SoH said, it is the rise in temperature that causes febrile convulsions, not the fever itself. DS2 has febrile convulsions (although he hasn't had one for a while so I'm hoping he has grown out of them as his dad did) and on several occasions he has had them with a lower temperature eg 39 and then not had a fit with a temperature of 40. It is the speed at which it rises which causes the fit.

As for them feeling hot, that doesn't always indicate a fever. DD gets quite hot to the touch and flushed when she is stressed (including when she is feeling unwell or tired) but doesn't always actually have a temperature. So I wouldn't give her Calpol without checking her actual temperature first.

ShowOfHands Mon 28-Feb-11 10:22:23

Baroque, the way dd feels when hot from tearing around is very different to the way she feels when hot from a temp. In fact she probably wouldn't be tearing around with a temp anyway. The heat radiates from them differently and dd always gets cold hands and feet with a temp and her core is roasting hot. She's very obvious.

The ill without a temp thing is weird isn't it? DD had bronchiolitis at 4 months. SATS were around 83, no temp at all. Her main problem was that she was chubby though and the neck rolls were pressing on her already compromised airway.

skydance Mon 28-Feb-11 10:22:27

The main message that parents are getting the dose wrong, half of all parents, really shock

How hard is it, 6+ calpol is orange so you know it's the other one, and I find myself checking the bottle very carefully every time anyway, I also write down when they've had what, especially if more than one child is ill at the same time.

I usually find with my children that if they have a temp then they're poorly anyway, so it's more the pain/illness that I'm giving calpol for, rather than just for the temp.

I just can't believe half of parents can be geting the doses wrong, it's not rocket science

ShowOfHands Mon 28-Feb-11 10:27:02

Jemima, like I said, with dd it isn't just feeling hot. She also has a raised respiratory rate, flushing, cold hands and feet, hot core etc. I know her and know how she behaves with a temp. And I find that pressing my lips to the back of her neck gives a very good indication of the difference between my temp and hers. But as I don't medicate for a temp, it's irrelevant what a thermometer would say. I take a temp when we need to see a GP/phone NHS Direct because they always ask.

I hope your ds2 is growing out of his fits. DN1 can fit at a very low temp. Just rising to around 38.3 has seen her fit before but like you say has had a temp of 40 when poorly with norovirus and no fitting at all. It's horrid to see.

MmeLindt Mon 28-Feb-11 10:28:49

We were advised by a paediatric nurse to give paracetemol or ibuprofen if the temperature goes over 39.5°C or if the child was obviously suffering.

Children deal with fever in different ways. Some are miserable at 38.5°C, some have a fever of almost 40°C and still be fine.

She also said that the spikes of temperature going up and down were worse than a slow fever, which is why they recommend oral medicine like calpol rather than suppositories (we were in Germany at the time, where this is common).

I think the article is fine. I have seen parents on MN ask if they should give calpol to a child with a "fever" of 37.9°C.

belgo Mon 28-Feb-11 10:30:06

I'm another one who never checks my children's temperature, but it is fairly obvious when they do have a temperature.

One of my children has had a febrile convulsion and wasn't even ill beforehand, it happened so quickly.

There was a post on mumsnet not so long ago saying that their GP had recommend doubling up on calpol for their small baby - I was very shocked to read that, and said so.

Unfortunately their are parents who cannot be trusted to use medicines correctly.

SardineQueen Mon 28-Feb-11 10:30:34

What a silly article.

Headline - thicko parents can't understand dosing instructions and routinely give adult doses to newborns. Thank gawd for the GP at the end who refuted that.

Headline - don't give pain relief to your child if they aren't in pain/distressed. ??? How many parents are going around dosing up cheerful bouncy children? Not many is my guess.

Headline - don't alternate ibuprofen and paracetamol. Again thank gawd for the GP at the end who said that this was sometimes advised and OK - as many parents are advised to do this by the GPs sometimes and as ever it is a bugger to follow advice only to have the rug whipped out from under your feet some time later.

MmeLindt Mon 28-Feb-11 10:31:00

Have a look here

Very good information about when to seek medical help for different ages of children.

belgo Mon 28-Feb-11 10:31:12

Suppositories are good if the fever and oral medicine causes vomiting.

MmeLindt Mon 28-Feb-11 10:32:38

yes, Belgo. I use them sometimes in those cases - or when the DC were really young and would not take medicines orally.

nickytwotimes Mon 28-Feb-11 10:34:27

it's quite simple really - if you child is uncomfortable due to fever or pain, give med. if they are comfy, don't!

story about nothing really

pommedeterre Mon 28-Feb-11 10:36:01

I can tell when dd is feverish as she is literally burning up and she gets to 39 plus pretty damn quick. I would always medicate then. 40C is SCARY.
What I find a grey line is as they're getting better and hit 38C or just under. If you had that normally without the virus and fever preceding it you wouldn't worry but at the tail end I do tend to keep giving some calpol/nurofen.
Doctors are always very pro meds (at the two surgeries dd and I have frequented anyway!)
Is a child likely to develop asthma likely to be more sickly/weak as an infant leading parents to be more likely to have used calpol on them? Agree that surely a baby getting to 15 months and no calpol must be pretty rare these days.

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