Many of us are familiar with this scenario; You come home from work and notice that your son is not as playful as he normally is. In fact, he seems disinterested in everything that happens around him. A couple of hours later, he’s on fire, and you wonder if you should take him to the hospital, so it’s obviously a fever.
What is fever?
Fever is an abnormally high body temperature. Normal body temperature is around 37oC, although there may be slight variations of 36.5oC to 37.5oC throughout the day. Measure the temperature by placing a thermometer in the child’s mouth, armpit, or bottom. Rectal temperature is the most accurate measurement. If you are a parent, it is advisable to have a thermometer at home. You can get one at most drug stores.
Although fever itself is not an illness, it is often an indicator of an underlying illness.
When you have a fever, your body feels hot. Older children who can talk may complain of being cold. They may also have headaches, lack of appetite, and show a general lack of interest in activities that normally interest them. Younger children may simply be irritable and refuse to feed. Rectal temperature will be above 38oC.
Causes of fever
- Bacterial infections, ear infections, pneumonia (chest infection), and meningitis
- Viral infections like the common cold, flu, diarrhea.
- Tumors and other conditions, although they are less common.
- Contrary to what is widely believed, teething does not cause a fever, but it does put the child at risk for infections, as a little more of anything is placed in the mouth to relieve the itchiness. A mild fever can indicate mild swelling or pain in the gums.
When should you worry?
Not all fevers should cause you to rush to the emergency room in the middle of the night. A low fever is not a cause for undue concern, especially if your baby has no other symptoms. Most fevers caused by a viral infection clear up in two to three days. Go to the hospital if your child has a high fever (over 39oC).
Fever above 42oC can damage the baby’s brain and requires very quick action. Very high fever can also cause seizures even if there is no infection.
- While taking your child to the hospital, you can use other methods to lower a fever, such as reducing the layers of his clothing and sponging him in warm water.
- If you are listless and lethargic. The child is not his usual happy self, he is irritable and unwilling to feed.
- He is unconscious.
- You have trouble breathing or are breathing fast.
- Have seizures
- In less than three months and has a fever.
- You have a fever that persists for more than 2-3 days or that does not improve or worsens despite treatment.
- You have another underlying condition, such as cancer and sickle cell anemia.
One of the most common tests for fever is a complete blood count, which will identify the infection. Other tests will be guided by symptoms and may include X-rays and urinalysis. The doctor will then advise you on the best treatment based on his findings.
Home remedies for fever
- Remove most of your clothing to help reduce the heat.
- Warm sponge. Dip a towel in Luke’s warm water, wring it out, and wipe the baby’s body to cool it down.
- Give your child plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
In addition, the doctor may prescribe some medications, usually paracetamol, such as syrups or suppositories to use whenever the child has a fever. These syrups can also be purchased at a pharmacy or drugstore. Don’t use aspirin.
To keep fever at bay, prevent infection.
It is difficult to prevent fever in children. In fact, fever is a sign that your child’s immune system is active and fighting illness. However, infections can be reduced by:
- Make sure your child receives all immunizations on schedule.
- Ensure proper hygiene, including hand washing.
- Vitamin A supplementation every 6 months
- A good diet, exercise, and adequate sleep will boost the immune system.