Is fever your friend or enemy?

By Dominique M. Foulkes, MD, Medical Director of Pediatrics, Suburban Hospital on 3/11/2017

Is fever your friend or enemy?

This winter I have seen many kids become ill with colds and the flu (influenza). You may have had friends miss school. You might even have gotten sick yourself, hopefully not! Many times when you are sick your body makes a fever. We all have a thermostat in our brains, just like in our homes, that controls our body’s temperature. That thermostat is called the hypothalamus (say: hi-po-THAL-uh-mus). It usually keeps out body at a toasty 98.6 F. That’s the average for most people. Some kids have higher or lower normal body temperatures. When we get sick, the hypothalamus cranks up the heat and causes a fever. When you have a fever your body temperature is higher than 101 F. Scientists think that this helps your body to fight off the germs that make you sick, by making it uncomfortable to stay around. The fever may also make you feel pretty crummy as well. This is a warning sign to you and your parents that you are sick. That means you need to take extra special care of yourself by getting lots of rest and drinking plenty of fluids. It also means you are contagious and should stay away from others as much as possible so that you don’t share your germs. Sometimes a fever can mean that you need to see your pediatrician for a checkup.


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