Pharmacy Corner
Fever in Children: Sorting Facts From Myths Fever and Medications

Are fever medications safe?

Are acetaminophen and ibuprofen safe to continue with antibiotics?

Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are safe to give with most antibiotics, but you should always ask your pharmacist about the safety of starting a new medication if you aren’t sure. Continue giving fever medications as long as the child is uncomfortable from fever or pain, or until the antibiotic makes the fever and its bothersome symptoms go away.

Are acetaminophen and ibuprofen safe to take with other medications my child is taking?

Always ask your pharmacist if your child’s medications (including over-the-counter medications, prescription medications, supplements, and herbal products) are safe to combine with a new medication.

Caution

Caution: Avoid combination cough and flu products!

Over-the-counter cold and flu products contain multiple ingredients and usually include either ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Combining these products with fever medications can lead to an accidental overdose.1,2 These products should always be avoided in children.


Are fever medications safe?

Will fever medications bring the body temperature down to normal?

Acetaminophen and ibuprofen will typically bring down a fever by about 1 to 2°C2. Although this drop in temperature may not be enough to bring your child’s body temperature down to normal, it should help relieve some symptoms of fever, such as discomfort and shivering.

MYTH

MYTH: The goal of treating fever is to bring the temperature down to normal.

The goal of treating fever is to make the child comfortable. It doesn’t matter how little or far the temperature drops as long as the child is no longer bothered by fever symptoms.1,2


MYTH

MYTH: A fever that can’t be brought down by fever medications requires immediate medication attention.

It is normal for a fever to resist or to bounce back after fever treatment.14 In these cases, the fever will go away on its own as the body recovers from the infection.

But if fever persists or keeps coming back after 3 days, it should be checked by a doctor (See “When should I take my child to the doctor or the hospital?”).


How often should I check my child’s temperature?

You only need to measure your child’s temperature if he or she feels warm or looks unwell.1 Aside from this, there is no need to take a temperature more than 2 to 4 times a day.1 Constant monitoring is discouraged because it only makes parents feel more worried about fever.

Caution

Caution!

Have your child checked by a doctor if his or her fever lasts longer than 24 hours without any obvious sign of infection or lasts for 3 or more days, or if your child develops any of the signs listed under “When should I take my child to the doctor or the hospital?