Fever is a very common problem and above all, distressing for parents, which lends itself to a multitude of ideas, beliefs, myths about fever.

We will mention some myths, very common, that are heard by parents and that we will try to decipher, if they are true or false.

1st myth: Antibiotics are the most effective drugs to reduce fever.

FALSE. This is a very common fact where parents irresponsibly go to the pharmacy to buy antibiotics without a prescription… and the pharmacies sell them without considering the ethical and technical aspects of antibiotic use.

Most infections in children are viral and antibiotics are not indicated in these cases.

These drugs should only be given when indicated by the physician.

Children’s defense system is the one that manages to eliminate viruses, so they should be offered healthy natural foods to strengthen their immune system.

2nd myth: The mercury thermometer is the most recommended thermometer for measuring temperature.

Although the mercury thermometer is the most accurate, its use is not currently recommended due to the environmental contamination it causes.

If it is improperly disposed of and the metal comes into contact with water, it is transformed into methylmercury.

This substance is absorbed by fish and then by humans, who feed on it, and can cause irreversible neurological damage similar to cerebral palsy.

It is also not recommended to use headbands or strips (made of plastic material) or ear thermometers to measure temperature, as they are very inaccurate.

3rd myth: If a child has fever and does not to eat, you should force him/her to eat, otherwise he’she may become weaker.

FALSE: If a child has a fever and does not want to eat, it is better not to force it.

The important thing is to keep him hydrated, for which he can be offered water, natural juices, electrolyte solutions, broths or soups.

Caffeine-containing beverages, such as tea or cola, should be avoided because they can contribute to dehydration.

4th myth: It is better for children with fever to stay warm.

FALSE. Overdressing or overdressing can increase body temperature. It is best to dress your child in light clothing and tuck him or her in with a thin blanket. 

The room where your child rests should be cool.

5th myth: High fever causes a child to seizure.

Most children do not convulse, even if they have a high fever. This type of seizure is more associated with genetic predisposition than temperature.

6th myth: Febrile seizures cause permanent sequelae such as deafness, paralysis and neurological damage.

FALSE. Simple febrile seizures do not leave neurological sequelae, even if they recur.

However, when they occur, the child should be evaluated by a pediatrician.

7th myth: If the fever is high, it indicates a bacterial infection; If it is low, it’s viral.

FALSE. The magnitude of the temperature does not allow differentiating the viral or bacterial origin of the disease. 

Both viruses and bacteria can produce high temperatures. 

8th myth: Unlike overheating, a fever in a newborn can be recognized because it does not go down when the baby is unwrapped and the child is irritable and does not want to eat.

TRUE: If a newborn has an elevated temperature and environmental conditions or overcoating cannot explain this rise in temperature, you should consult your doctor immediately.

9th myth: Fever is dangerous, especially in children.

FALSE. Fever is the healthiest response of the immune system that is fighting to defend itself against infection.

As a symptom and not a disease, fever does not cause any harm in adults or children, but it does generate a lot of fear and stress, especially in parents of children when they have high temperatures.

10th myth: Fever causes meningitis.

FALSE. It is a mistake to claim that high fever causes brain damage or affects the neurological development of children.

Nor does it cause meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain).

What happens is that infections of the nervous system, such as meningitis or encephalitis, manifest themselves with fever.

This inflammation of the meninges is usually caused by infection with viruses, bacteria, fungi and other germs.

The most dangerous meningitis are those caused by bacteria, since they often leave sequelae, even after having received timely and adequate treatment.

Bacteria have an easier time penetrating the central nervous system.

11th myth: If the child is over 38ºC you should put him/her in cold water.

FALSE. Cold water is a huge temperature shock.

You can give baths with lukewarm water, but always at a temperature 2 degrees below the child’s fever.

In any case, it is preferable to keep the child hydrated and lightly clothed rather than opt for this measure, which is uncomfortable for the child when he/she is feverish.

Let us remember the basic principle:
“Fever is measured, not assumed”. – Dr. Hector Pereda Serna, Pediatrician.