A child’s fever can be very scary for parents especially for first-time mom and dad. Every child gets a high temperature no matter how careful you are. What to do at that time, what is dangerous and what not? We will try to explain these conditions.
Tips on measuring your child’s temperature
*A variety of thermometers are available, from standard oral thermometers to the newer temporal artery scanners. You can use any of these devices, but a digital thermometer is generally all you need.
*It is most accurate to use a rectal thermometer for infants and young children. If you feel uneasy doing this, use whichever device makes you most comfortable. In older children, an oral temperature is most accurate, if the child can tolerate it.
So what is a fever?
We define a fever as a temperature over 100.4 F (38.0 C).
Normal body temperature is 98.6 F (37 C).
Everyone’s body temperature varies throughout the day and can differ by age, activity level, and other factors. Don’t be alarmed if your child’s temperature varies. The magic number for fever is 100.4 F.
When should you not worry about your child’s fever? We tend not to worry about:
Fevers of less than five days if your child’s behavior is relatively normal. You don’t need to be concerned if your child continues to be playful and is eating and drinking normally. (He or she may seem more tired than usual).
Temperatures of up to 102.5 F if your child is 3 months to 3 years of age, or up to 103 F if your child is older.
These temperatures can be common, but not necessarily worrisome.
Low-grade fevers if your infant or child was recently immunized. These can be normal if they last less than 48 hours.
When to call your doctor
Now for the important question: When should you be worried about a fever? Call a doctor when:
- An infant younger than 3 months of age develops a fever. Fevers may be your infant’s only response to a serious illness.
- Your child’s fever lasts more than five days. We may need to investigate further for underlying causes.
- Your child’s fever is higher than 104 F (> 40 C).
- Your child’s fever does not come down with fever reducers.
- Your child is not acting himself or herself, it is difficult to arouse or is not taking in enough liquids. Babies who are not wetting at least four diapers per day and older children who are not urinating every eight to 12 hours may become dangerously dehydrated.
- Your child was recently immunized and has a temperature above 102º F or a fever for more than 48 hours.
- You are concerned. If you are uncomfortable with your child’s temperature or illness, call your doctor or nurse practitioner to discuss it.
What to do if a seizure occurs
Seizures are a very scary side effect of fevers in some children. “Febrile seizures” occur in 2 to 4 percent of all children under age 5.
Not all seizures cause jerking movements in the body. Some seizures look like “passing out.” If your child develops a seizure:
*Put your child on his or her side.
*Do NOT put anything in your child’s mouth.
*Call 911 if the seizure lasts more than five minutes.
If the seizure lasts less than five minutes, call your physician or seek immediate medical attention.
What to do about multiple fevers
If your child has persistent or multiple episodes of fever and a pediatrician cannot figure out what is causing them, he or she may refer your child to a specialist.
A pediatric infectious disease expert or pediatric rheumatologist may be able to get to the bottom of the issue.
Home remedies for children and infants
The treatments for fever in children are very similar to those for adults. However, there are a few subtle differences.
For example, to treat a fever, children and infants should try:
Drinking plenty of fluids
Like adults, children with a fever also need plenty of fluids. However, it can be difficult to get young children to drink extra water.
Some more appealing alternatives include:
- warm chicken broth
- flavored jello
- diluted fruit juice
Children may feel better after taking OTC medications. As a result, they may feel more energetic and playful.
However, it is important to ensure that children rest until the fever or illness has passed.
If a child cannot sleep or relax, parents and caregivers can try reading them a story or playing them some gentle music.
Taking warm baths
Children are unlikely to appreciate bathing when they are sick.
An alternative option is to place a warm washcloth on the child’s forehead to help soothe the fever.
People should never apply to rub alcohol to a child’s skin in an attempt to soothe a fever.
Alcohol can be dangerous when absorbed into the skin.
Taking OTC medications
As with adults, medication is not usually necessary for a child with a fever. However, taking OTC medications can help reduce fever and make a child feel more comfortable.
One drug that is suitable for children of most ages is acetaminophen. It is available under the brand name Tylenol.
Tylenol’s manufacturers state that it is suitable for use even in very young infants.
However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not supply dosage instructions for acetaminophen in children under 2 years of age.
People who wish to treat a young infant should ask their doctor’s or pharmacist’s advice on appropriate dosages.
Some medications are not suitable for children of certain ages.
These include aspirin, which is not suitable for people under 16 years of age, and ibuprofen, which is not suitable for children under 3 months of age or those who weigh under 5 kilograms.
Ibuprofen is also not suitable for children with asthma.
Conclusion: Measure your child’s temperature a few times a day.If a temperature doesn’t go down go to a doctor.