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Fever- friend or foe?

I am often contacted by parents with young children who are anxious about their child’s fever. We’ve all heard the horror stories of fevers causing convulsions and this often creates fear when our children develop a fever. Most parents will try to reduce the fever with a dose of panadol or nurofen. However, a fever is the body’s way of fighting infection and using medication routinely to reduce it can make it harder for the body to do its job. In fact, studies have shown that suppressing a fever through regular use of panadol/nurofen can prolong some viral illnesses. This makes sense because the fever is needed to fight the virus or bacteria.

I recently attended the emergency department at the Mater Children’s Hospital in Brisbane and the walls were covered in posters reassuring parents that fevers are not dangerous. One such poster states:

Fevers are not dangerous

A fever is simply the body’s way of fighting infection – whether it is caused by a virus or bacteria. They do not harm the body or brain in any way. The body has a temperature control centre which prevents the temperature from reaching a dangerous level. If your child seems happy and comfortable enough there is no need to treat the fever – in fact, studies have shown that suppressing a fever through regular use of panadol/nurofen can prolong some viral illnesses.

Poster @ Mater Children’s Hospital Emergency Department Oct 2009


This information is not intended to substitute advice or instructions from your doctor or health care professional. It is based on the clinical guideline Feverish illness in children which is available at www.nice.org.uk