No parent likes to see their child suffer, even when its due to something as common as a fever. And while a fever is something just about everyone has to deal with during their lives, its important to know when its something routine and when its something more serious especially in kids.
What is a Fever?
A normal temperature for a child is around 37 degrees Celsius or 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything over that may indicate your child is sick, although some kids core temperature may vary slightly especially in children under three months old, and temperature alone is not enough to tell you if your child is seriously ill.
When an infection is present in the body, the internal temperature goes up. Some researchers believe this happens to create an environment that is unpleasant for the infection so that its less likely to survive. And while the rise in temperature makes the infection unhappy, it most likely has the same effect on your child.
Its also not uncommon for immunizations to bring on fevers in children as they react to the substance introduced to their little bodies.
The good news is that most of the time a fever is nothing to panic about. It may be unsettling for you and uncomfortable for your child, but long-term complications from a fever are rare.
Treating a Fever
The first goal in treating a fever in your child is to make him or her comfortable. Start by having him dress in a single layer and make sure the room temperature is not too hot or too cold.
Old wives tales exist that may suggest what to feed or not feed your child when hes sick, but the best course of action is to let your child be your guide. Small amounts of food will keep his energy up and be sure hes getting enough fluids to avoid dehydration. Water, soup, Jell-O and ice pops may be the best way to encourage your child to get fluids. If vomiting or diarrhea are present, electrolytes may be needed for rehydration. Also, if your child seems to need more rest, let that happen. And if he wants to play let him!
Medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen may help ease some of the discomfort of a fever.
Another myth is that a cold bath can lower a fever. This is NOT recommended. This can actually make a fever worse.
When a Fever is Serious
As a parent, you know when your child is acting differently. That may be the first sign that theres something more serious going on, but that doesnt immediately necessitate sounding the alarm. Check for other signs that may indicate something serious is going on, and if youre concerned call a doctor.
In children less than three months, a fever should be taken a little more seriously. Under three months, children are not as good at regulating their body temperatures and they may be less likely to be able to get their temperature back to normal. A young child may also have their temperature drop instead of rise if they are sick.