Archived Q&A and Reviews

One-year-old gets a very high temperature with colds

Every time my 1 year old son gets sick, he gets a very, very high temperature. Wednesday night it was 107 degrees. Of course, we went to the hospital after a tepid bath and the doctor did not even believe it was really 107! (Despite the fact that it was still 105). He is on the mend now, last night it was only 106 at the highest.

We do the regular stuff--tepid bath if over 106, tylenol and advil alternating so that he is never un-medicated (even still, it spikes). I was wondering 3 things. First, does anyone know why this happens or why certain children are prone to high fevers? Or books on the subject? Second, any other tips from people who have had kids like this. (Tell me it ends as they get older, please!) He is rarely sick and these are almost always viral things (no ear infections, sinus infections and it has never been meningitis although we have almost had to have the spinal tap to make sure). Finally, should I worry about all that advil and tylenol? I tend to think that hearing loss or brain damage resulting from high fever would be worse, but what do people think/know? Laura

here's some advice I picked up on dealing with a high fever in a recent First Aid class. The teeacher suggested the following method:

strip the kid down to underware, wet a sheet in room temperature (not cold) water, lay child down flat and cover with wet sheet, turn on a rotating fan to blow over the sheet until the sheet becomes cold, re-warm with room temp water, etc

Good Luck
-=-Dave Dad o' Eleanor (5 yo) & Elizabeth (2 yo)

Wrapping child's wrists and ankles in rags soaked in water/vinegar solution helps to bring fever down. Tatiana

For three years after my younger son Jake was born, I cared for another baby 4 days a week, Brian, who was the same age as Jake. Brian and Jake always had the same colds at the same time, brought home from pre-school by my older son I suppose. Jake never ran a fever when he had a cold until he had an ear infection, which he had with about half his colds. For Jake, fever meant ear infection. Brian always got a high fever with colds, usually in the 105-106 range, but never got ear infections. I came to the conclusion that what fever means in one kid means something else in another. I have since heard that fever is actually a good thing - it is the body's reaction to germs and that raising the body temperature aids in containing the spread of virus. But being really hot is pretty uncomfortable. After the first couple episodes where Brian's mom took him to the doctor for the high fever, we agreed we'd just keep him cool by letting him hang out in his diaper and maybe a t-shirt, and give him plenty of liquids. We gave him Tylenol too but it really didn't seem to have much of an effect on the fever - it would go down a degree or two and then go away after a day or two. Ginger

I do not know why some children get extremely high fevers, but I can tell you that my twin sister and I are just like your son. When we were his age, our temperatures would rage out of control, even for little things like a runny nose or a minor cold. The doctors never understood why and we've had our share of spinal taps to rule out spinal meningitis. I am asthmatic but I do not think that had anything to do with the high fevers. My sister was a normal child. We're 32 years old now and we still get high fevers when we get sick.

Ten years ago I had the chicken pox and my temperature soared to 106. My doctors didn't believe me until I appeared in the office a few days later and my fever was just below 105. I just had the flu last month and my temperature stayed around 104, which is about the norm for me. Whereas my temperature does not rise as high as they used to when I was much younger, I'm never surprised or alarmed when my temperature reaches the 106 mark. I outgrew the asthma for the most part but the high fevers still occur on the rare occasions I am sick. To this day, my doctor still has not been able to tell me why my fevers get so high. I've never had convulsions, blackouts or other scary effects of high fevers. On the other hand, I can go to work and participate in other activities with a fever of 102 and just feel a little tired. My sister's temperature will soar whenever she is in any pain. Ironically, for the both of us, our normal body temperatures are below 98.6.

I just wanted to write to you to let you know that he just may be one of those rare kids who get high fevers without consequence, other than scarying you. Maybe it's heredity, although my daughter, has not experienced excessively high fevers. If you ever find out why this occurs, please let me know. Good luck in your search for answers. Kimberly

One of the most stressful parts of being a mom has been coping with our daughter's high fevers. Our 7 year old daughter used to get very high fevers (106) that would last for 7-10 days. From her first illness at 5 months old until she was about 5 years old, *every* bout of illness, whether it was the common cold or a flu, was accompanied by a fever. These past couple of years have been kinder--she still gets high fevers with flus, but almost never gets one with colds anymore. This is in line with what a couple of folks have told me about fever babies. Apparently,these kids tend to get fewer fevers after age 6 or so. I'm not sure why this happens, but based on my experience and what I've heard it does get better!

Our pediatrician says that some children have an active fever response, and has recommended doing what you've been doing which is to alternate giving advil and tylenol. Even with these meds in her system, her temp never dipped below 102.

What scares me the most is when my daughter has no symptoms other than a high fever. This happened a few months ago when all she had was 7 straight days of 104-5. No runny nose, congestion, sore throat or body aches. By the third day she was feeling very fatigued, though. When she gets these mysterious fevers my imagination goes wild and I worry about rare, difficult or impossible to treat illnesses. Our pediatrician assures us that despite her fevers, our little girl is one of her healthiest patients.

My sense about all this is that each child's body is very unique, with its own responses and vulnerabilities. Some kids seemed prone to ear infections or stomach problems--my daughter has had 1 ear infection and 2 bouts of diarrhea in her life. This is in contrast to some of her friends who never get more than a day or two of 102 fevers, but are in and out of the doctors' offices for ear infections or stomach stuff. Karen