Parents normally become worried when their child gets fever. A typical sign of many underlying diseases and illness is a fever. We will discuss on the fever in children with causes, symptoms and treatment options in this post.
Understanding the Fever in children:
Actually fever is not a disease, but a symptom that portends that all is not well in the body. It is a rise in body temperature in response to the three ‘I’s – Infection, Injury, Inflammation. Dr. R. K. Anand, Health & Nutrition panel pediatrician explains: “Consider fever a friend which battles the foes, by releasing substances that attack disease causing organisms. This finely tuned defense mechanism helps to cure the diseases or limit its spread. We can liken it to a fire in which the invading germs are destroyed.”
Fever in Children Symptoms:
To initiate treatment early, it is essential to recognize the signs and symptoms of fever. Lets see the symptoms of fever in children:
1. Chill and Shivering:
Chills are a natural accompaniment to fever, because the body’s thermostat senses when its temperature is low as compared to the new levels. There may be sweating, headaches, loss of appetite and cold. As their body works to elevate its temperature, children who have a fever may suffer chills and shaking.
2. Febrile Seizure:
Fever induces convulsions or febrile seizures can be frightening, but are usually not dangerous.
3. Rising Temperature:
The major sign of a fever in children is an increase in body temperature than normal temperature (98.6 degree Fahrenheit). There are triggered by a rising temperature and occur in 40% of kids between 6 months and 5 years, but more commonly between 9 months and 20 months. These usually run in families, and mercifully most have only one and last for under 15 minutes.
The entire body shakes for 15 minutes. You need to straighten the legs and lay the child on her side to prevent her from swallowing vomit. No treatment is required, except paracetamol to reduce the fever and warm sponge. complex seizures last for more than 15 minutes can be only one sided and recur more than once in 24 hours. They need medical attention and anti-convulsant medication and further tests.
4. Loss of Appetite:
A fever in children usually causes a loss of appetite. Encouragement of hydration and provision of foods that are easily digestible are important.
How to Measure Temperature:
There are different ways to measure temperature by thermometer.
In the mouth: Using a glass or digital thermometer which is suitable for a child over 5. Place below the tongue to close the lips, not teeth. The temperature is lowest in the mouth because it is cooled by air breathed though the nostrils. Keep thermometer in for 2 minutes.
In the armpit: Place a glass or digital thermometer. This gives the most accurate and highest reading because the rectum is well within the body where the flesh is thick. Dip the bulb in petroleum jelly, put the baby on his stomach across your knees and insert half to one inch for 2 to 3 minutes.
In the ear: Using a digital device which measures infrared radiation from the ear drum. You need to form a seal around the opening of the ear with the thermometer probe and press the start button to get the reading. It is not reliable in babies below three months.
Caution on measuring temperature:
- Strip thermometers to be placed on the forehead are not always accurate.
- Shake a glass thermometer up ‘n’ down so that it is down to at least 97 degree.
- Tell your doctor where you have recorded the temperature.
- Do not go on taking the temperature when your child is well.
Common Causes of Fever in Children:
Fever in children is the body’s response to an infection or illness. Understanding the underlying causes is crucial for effective management. They are many and far between and range from excessive activity in hot weather, to excessive exposure of the sun, to an invasion of germs, organisms, toxin, to injuries, to allergens. Here are some common causes of fever in child:
A vaccine can also cause a fever, which does not mean that you should not administer one. Some kids may have low-grade fevers following particular vaccines. As the immune system fortifies its defenses against the targeted diseases, this is a typical reaction.
What to do:
A paracetamol minimizes the risk of getting the fever at all.
2. Viral Infection:
Fever in children is a symptom of an infection and is a sign that your child is fighting the disease. Remember, a full 80% of infections are due to a virus and do not respond to antibiotics.
What to do:
So when you push your doctor to prescribe an antibiotic or give one on your own steam, it will not do a thing for the viral infection and even cause nasty side effects like nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, rash, abdominal pain and more.
A virus is an ultra microscopic particle that multiplies inside the body to trigger the specific ailment. Until your child’s immune system has learned to fight them off, he may have a staggering from 40 to 60 different viral infections that are going around before age 7, after which he will normally have one or two a year (a couple of bad colds, one tummy upset or two, cough, all teamed with fever).
According to doctors, most viral infections manifest themselves as fever for 72 hours, and when the fever falls, along comes a watery nose, a rash, a cough or diarrhoea as if the body is trying to slough off the dead virus. The child will get better spontaneously. If after 7 days the fever returns with a green or yellow nasal discharge it is a secondary infection that needs antibiotics.
That is why you need to wait for three days before starting medication to allow other symptoms if any to develop.
3. The Common Cold:
The common cold is produced by 200 or more viruses. Your child may become immune to one, then wham, in three weeks, another one hits him. Even from the age of 6 to 8, your child may have 6 to 8 colds a year, which may dwindle to half as much from 9 to 12, and again to another half after 12.
What to do:
They can accompanied by fever, headaches, sneezing, a running nose, sore throat triggered by exposure to cold air, or caught from a pal and worsened by diary products, sugar, wheat, eggs. Offer steam inhalations, salt water gargles, warm fluids, chicken soup and tulsi leaves with lime juice to thin out nasal secretions and loosen phlegm. Wash hands, including yours, frequently. A child slleps better on the tummy.
Use nose drops to unclog a stuffy nose – 2 drops in each nostril, 3 times a day for 2 days. Place a baby on her back on top of your thighs with the head hanging over your knees. Insert drops. Hold your hand over her, so that she inhales them properly. wait 15 minutes before feeding. Petroleum jelly soothes chapped nostrils.
A baby coughs when she sleep because the watery discharge from the back of the nose drips down the throat, or else it would go into the windpipe. A protective mechanism pushes the cough.
Antibiotics should only be used if the nasal discharge is green and yellow. Antihistamines are also harmful as they dry up the secretions which are the body’s way of helping the virus to out.
4. Tummy Upsets:
Tummy upsets are the second most common infection and can happen a couple of times a year until your child shrugs them off.
Besides fever, they are accompanied by pain, vomiting, loose stools, nausea, listlessness. They are nature’s way of eliminating the intruding agent.
What to do:
Do not let the child get dehydrated. So offer plenty of fluids. Good sources are rice kanji, mother’s milk, watery dal, cola, clear soup, butter milk and plain boiled water. Make your own oral rehydration fluid with one liter water, 8 tsp sugar, 1 tsp salt. once again, frequent hand washing is important. Zinc supplements – 10 mg to a child of less than 6 months and 20 mg a day for older kids – can be offered.
Antibiotics are ineffective and can even be harmful.
5. Bacterial Infection:
These are caused by germs and a define infection, like say tonsillitis, needs antibiotics. Infections in the ear, lung, bladder, kidney, brain are also bacterial infections. After three days of watchful waiting your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic and ask for more tests. A leucocyte count of over 15000/mm3 means that the white blood cells are battling the bacteria.
What to do:
Give the medication strictly as prescribed and for the correct number of days. Overuse and the body begins to get resistant, as there seems to be a survival of the fittest code among bacteria.
A baby below 2 months with a huge fever may need antibiotics too.
Blood, stool, urine tests, x-rays can help identify the culprit.
Preventive Care for Fever in Children:
- Immunizations play a crucial role in preventing various illness that can lead to fever. Follow the recommended vaccination schedule.
- If you feel fever, offer paracetamol every 4 hours (not more than 4 doses in 24 hours). It takes 1 and half hour for the fever to reduce.
- Sponge with warm water 30 minutes after using the paracetamol. Never use alcohol or cold water.
- Do not force feed which will induce vomiting. let your child eat if he wants to. Eating aids formation of helper cells to fight viruses. On the other hand, keeping stomach a little empty promotes helper cells to fight bacteria. simple solids are cereal, custard, toast, soft boiled eggs, biscuits are good.
- Give enough of liquids – water, soups, juices, coconut water, or even colas – to prevent dehydration.
- Keep the child cool by with minimum clothes. Open the windows and turn on the fan or the AC.
- Encourage rest or light activities such as coloring, doing puzzles, reading, watching TV.
- Regular hand washing can greatly lower the chance of contracting an infection.
When to Seek Medical Help:
While most fever in children are harmless and resolve on their own. But there are certain situations which need special attention and seek medical advice.
Seek medical attention if your child’s temperature rises to 104 degree Fahrenheit consistently.
You should need to have medical advice if the fever persists for a few days.
You should need special medical attention if you see the symptoms in your child like trouble breathing, prolonged vomiting or seizures.
Fever in children is frequently a symptom that battling against infection or illness in bodies. Parents should play an important role in understanding underlying causes symptoms of fever in child and take necessary care accordingly at home. Keep in mind that it is always advisable to seek professional medical advice whenever you feel severe symptoms.