Kids Will Get Sick: 5 Facts a Pediatrician Wants You to Know

Last updated on January 2nd, 2017 at 10:35 am

girl_high_fever_mom_checking_tempThe warnings you were given as a child about not going out with your hair wet or you’d catch pneumonia, don’t sit too close to the television or you’ll damage your eyesight – it’s probably safe to say what they lacked in accuracy they made up for in good intentions. But as we enter into the time of year when colds and other infections seem to thrive, it seemed like a good opportunity to set the record straight, debunk some of the myths and provide you with some useful information to get you through the worst of it…just in case you or someone else in your family starts to feel sick…

Fallacies vs Realities:

  1. Being out in the cold or wet weather can lead to a “cold” in a child.  A “cold” or an upper respiratory infection is almost always due to a viral infection which, aside from certain colds being more prominent during certain seasons, is unrelated to the outdoor temperature.  A cold happens when a viral agent attaches to the inside of the mouth nose or eyes.  The viral particles enter the very specialized cells in these areas and replicate in to more of the same particles and even fever which then can invade further causing the associated symptoms.  The same is true for the fear of “catching pneumonia” when one gets cold and/or wet.
  2. When the mucus in one’s nose green it automatically signifies the onset of sinus infection or contagious disease.  A sinus infection is not contagious for the same reason that it occurs. Inflammation or possibly bacteria works its way into the sinus cavities, set up shop and cause the symptoms of the resulting pain and sometimes swelling.  The reason, as with ear infections, that these are not contagious is that both of these occur in fairly small closed spaces and the inner contents cannot get out; concurrently antibiotics have a difficult time getting in, so it usually takes c little longer to cure these infections. For a frame of reference, consider the rapid “cure” that occurs when one contracts strep throat, an easily accessible area, after antibiotics are used.
  3.  Once the fever is down after the use of acetaminophen or ibuprofen during an illness, that illness is over and the concentration should be placed on “breaking” the fever.  In fact each illness has its own symptoms, including how high the fever goes or how long it lasts.  Some fevers do come and go within the same illness and the use of medications to” cure” the fever and hence the illness is fallacious. Certainly one will want to give their child some relief from the symptoms and these medications are good for that reason.
  4. A child who has a “high” fever will get brain damage.   In fact, fever itself is merely a symptom of an illness such as other symptoms; runny nose, cough, headache, etc.  While high fever itself is seldom ever responsible for brain damage some very rare but very significant illnesses for which the fever may be an accompanying symptom may result in brain damage:  e., meningitis, encephalitis and others.  But to be complete, and fair to all parents worrying about their child with fever, fever by itself is not the only symptom one sees with such serious illnesses.  If there is a very high fever, contact with your Doctor will help sort through the causes.
  5. High fever will cause seizures in my child.  There is a small population of children who will, in fact, develop a mild, non-harmful seizure during the initial rise in that fever.   Although these seizures are not harmful to your child, it is important to know if there might be another reason for such seizures, and your child should be seen by a physician immediately- usually an Emergency room Doctor. Also a little known fact is that the seizure will only seldom repeat itself during the same illness. Again the parents will want to use a medicine for fever because of the discomfort your child will have and the fact that another seizure is possible.

These are just a few; let me know of other questions or concerns you might have and I’m happy to address them.

About the Author

Dr. Joseph Skoloff received his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and his medical degree from The Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He is a past Vice Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics, a past Chairman of the Infection Control Committee at the Loudoun Hospital Center and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. In his 41 years as a practicing pediatrician he has kept hundreds of kids and families healthy and safe and plans to continue to do so for years to come. Dr. Joe believes strongly in the combined power of parent and physician working together for the health of their children. He is an advocate for children everywhere and and adheres strongly to the principles of the American Academy of Pediatrics.Dr Joe is a member of the PedSafe Expert team

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    1. […] have posted in the past about fever and many of the myths surrounding it (Kids Will Get Sick: 5 Facts a Pediatrician Wants You To Know).  In this post I would like to deal with the causes, nature of fever, benefits of fever, and some […]



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