Fever is one of the most common symptoms in a child. In fact, 6 out of 10 parents of children under 5 years will tell you that the child has had a fever at least once. And rightfully so, as it is one of the body’s natural reactions to combat infections.
In children, the fever is often associated with a viral infection, most commonly accompanied with a cough or a cold. And this makes it treatable at home. However, fever is also caused by one of the most common causes of doctor visits in childhood- immunization.
Fever and immunization
For a parent, a doctor’s office might just be one of the most frequented places in the first year and half of the baby’s life. And it is not always because the baby is unwell. Most often, it is for immunization – an insurance against grave and life-threatening diseases of childhood.
The vaccines help a child build up his immunity. And one of the natural reactions of the process is a fever. Some vaccines, like the Meningococcal Type B vaccine, is known to cause fever in about 50% of the babies. And so, the nurse generally lets you know how to prevent and treat the fever at home. That said, fever is not an indicator of a vaccine’s effectiveness. So don’t be alarmed if your child does not get any fever at all!
When is fever a serious affair?
If your child is constitutionally well, you can manage the fever at home. However, before getting into it, here are the conditions where you need to take the baby to the doctor.
- your baby is under three months old and has a temperature of 38°C (101°F) or higher
- your baby is three to six months old and has a temperature of 39°C (102°F) or higher
- Immunization fever lasting more than 24 hours
- Red rash that doesn’t fade when a glass is rolled over it
- Crying differently or inconsolably
- Regular fever that lasts for more than 3 days
- your child’s health is getting worse
If it is none of the above, you can manage the child’s fever at home.
How to measure the temperature in children?
In children less than 5, a fever is defined by a temperature above 38°C (100.4°F). Before treating, it is important to understand how to take the proper temperature of the baby.
The best way to assess this temperature is with the help of a digital thermometer. There are 4 ways to take the temperature of a baby
- Ear (3 months onwards)
- Armpit (any age)
- Rectum (Generally in newborns)
- Oral (5 years onwards)
Forehead thermometers will not give an accurate measurement, so it is best to avoid using them. Here is a video on taking your baby’s temperature.
Managing fever at home
Now that you know how to take the temperature, this is what you need to do to manage the temperature at home.
The first thing you need to do is to make the child comfortable. Dress him lightly. Too many clothes may cause hyperthermia in children. The next thing you do is to ensure that he is not dehydrated. If it is an infant, check the anterior fontanelle- the small soft part on your infant’s forehead. It should not appear depressed. In addition, the skin should be taut. One of the classic signs of dehydration is sunken eyes.
Give your baby age-appropriate fluids. AVOID ready made juices/glucose water as it may cause diarrhea in children. If needed, use Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS).
If your child is comfortable despite the fever, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, UK, guidelines do not recommend any medicines. However, if the child is uncomfortable, you can use fever medicine.
Republished with permission from: theAsianParent Singapore