TODAY   |  March 13, 2014

Simple tips to treat your child’s fever

Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, a pediatrician advisor for Parents magazine, joins TODAY to discuss why some parents may benefit from a simple wait-and-see approach when their child is sick, and offer tips on how to treat a fever.

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>>> when your little one is sick, you want to go above and beyond easing the pain but sometimes waiting is the best medicine.

>> why some benefits may benefit from a wait-and-see approach. good morning, doctor.

>> good morning.

>> we hate to watch our kids suffer. often it's a high fever. i think a lot of us, our tendency is to rush to the medic medicine cabinet. you tell us to wait a little. why?

>> fever is caused by a bacterial infection . i always say this -- don't treat the thermometer, treat your child. if your child is really flopping on the couch, not moving around a lot, isn't drinking and keeping up with fluids, treat with a fever reducer. there are some takeaways where you want to keep in touch with your pediatrician. if your baby is an infant, under three months of age, fever is not acceptable without a doctor visit. and if fever goes on for two or three days, we wonder what may be happening. if your kid is playing in the corner with their lego and happy, no need to treat the thermometer.

>> ear infections . the kid are so miserable.

>> well, they're painful. that's a great reminder that the most important medicine when it comes to ear infections are those fever reducers and pain reducers. just in the last year the american academy of pediatrics set out new guidelines. over 50% of ear infections go away without an anti-biotic. you want to make sure your pediatrician sees the eardrum before you treat with antibiotics. if your child is over age 2, you can use pain meds for the first couple of days to avoid that anti-b anti-biotic. sometimes i'll see a patient in the office and i'll write a prescription and say if your 6-year-old is not better in two days, then start it.

>> and with pink eye , wait a little bit first. aren't you concerned -- i mean, it is super contagious.

>> it is contagious. sometimes can you avoid antibiotics when, for example, if your child is older and over age 6 and if the gunk in their eye isn't causing the eye to be swollen shut, you might be able to get away with not using antibiotics.

>> and ct scans . these can be life saving . at what point do you need to worry about getting your kid a ct scan ?

>> you're right, they can help us diagnose things we didn't used to see. there's ban five-fold increase in the number of ct scans children get. they provide ionizing radiation , which we think can lead to cancer later on. you can ask the radiologist to dial down the dose of radiation for a child. they really get pint sized doses. and ask for alternatives.

>> we're out of time. thanks so much. great information. we're back in a moment. this is "today" on nbc.