Fever In Children – H&S Education & Parenting
Parents, especially first-time parents, get alarmed when their child has a fever. But when should parents really be worried and call the doctor? In order to answer the question, it’s firstly important as a parent to know what fever is and also, in the back of your mind, know that every child, at some stage, will eventually have a fever and the temperature usually will return to normal in less than 5 days. A normal temperature in babies and children varies slightly but is generally about 36.4C. 38C (101F) or more is considered as fever in a child. A fever is usually body’s natural response to fight off an infection. However, 38C or 101F is not a cause of concern always unless it lasts for more than 5 days. A high temperature of 40C (104F) or more, is what should be alarming.
The first important step is to take your child’s temperature using preferably a digital thermometer. In children and infants rectal thermometer should be used to get accurate temperature readings. In older children, oral temperature can be used.
When To Be Worried & Call The Doctor?
- If you have an infant less than 3 months old and he/she develops a fever as this may indicate an underlying illness.
- If your child’s fever lasts longer than 5 days this may indicate an underlying illness.
- If your child has a fever more than 104F or 40C.
- If your child’s fever doesn’t come down with antipyretics such as paracetamol.
- If your child appears drowsy, doesn’t appear like him/herself, not taking enough liquids, appears dehydrated (a baby should wet at least 4 diapers a day and an older child should urinate every 8 to 12 hourly or refuses to feed.
- If your child has received his/her immunization and developed a temperature above 102F or 38C for more than 48 hours.
- If you are not comfortable with your child’s temperature and are concerned.
All of the above should warrant a call or visit to the paediatrician who can then assess your child and find out the cause of fever.
Dos & Don’ts At Home:
If your child or baby has a fever, you can usually look after him/her at home and the temperature should go down over 3 or 4 days.
Things To Do:
1. Make sure they are hydrated with lots of fluids
2. Feed them if they are hungry
3. You can have a temperature chart if you are a concerned parent but don’t overdo it
4. Give them paracetamol if they appear distressed or unwell on doctor’s advice
5. You can always get medical advice if you are anxious
Things To Avoid:
1. Undressing your child.
2. Overheating by covering them with too many clothes, blankets etc.
3. Self administering, mixing antipyretics, giving the wrong medication or wrong dose without doctor’s consent.
Causes Of Hight Temperature
Infections are the usual cause of fevers and as stated fever is the body’s natural response to make sure that the bacteria and viruses causing the infections don’t survive. It is also common for a child to get fever after his/her immunization and this shouldn’t warrant a cause of concern, until and unless the temperature is above 102F or 38C for more than 48 hours.
Some Common Illnesses That Cause Fever:
URTIs or upper respiratory tract infections, ear infections, flu, UTIs or urinary tract infections, chickenpox, whooping cough or pertussis.
Seizures can be an extremely scary side effect of fevers in some kids. This usually occurs in less than 4% of all children under the age of 5. For parents who have not experienced this before, febrile seizures can be petrifying. It’s important to understand that not all febrile seizures will cause the jerky movements in the body, some may appear like your child has ‘passed out’.
What Should You Do When Your Child Has A Febrile Seizure:
1. Lay your child on their side so they don’t choke.
2. Don’t put anything in their mouth.
3. Call your doctor to seek medical advice.