Fever in itself is not a disease. Instead, fever is the body’s immunity fighting against a virus or bacteria which has invaded the human body. So when a pathogen attacks our body, our immune system activates and increases blood circulation in the body. The activation of the immune system and increased blood circulation leads to a rise in the body’s temperature. This is how our bodies are naturally designed to fight against diseases whenever there is any external attack on the body.
Fever is not our enemy, it is our friend. Toddlers and infants easily catch fever because they are always in contact with germs. If your child is eating fine, sleeping for appropriate hours, and urinating 7-8 times a day, then there is nothing to worry about. The fever will come down easily after 2-3 days. If the fever lasts for more than a week, and your child does not eat, sleep, and urinate properly, it is advisable to visit your child’s paediatrician. Sometimes, infants and toddlers might suffer from fits during high fever. This is when it becomes very much essential to bring down the fever. Children also feel pain or ache during fever due to which it is important to lower down the fever in children by giving medication.
Common Causes of Fever:
- Respiratory tract infections
- Cold and cough
- Ear infections
- Teething in infants
How to be sure whether a child has fever or not?
- Most of the parents touch their child’s forehead and if they find it a little warm, they consider it as fever. Scientifically this is termed as delusion of fever.
- Delusion of fever might result due to several reasons:
- Mother’s hand being cold because of working with water on and off. Also, hands are usually cold as they are quite away from our hearts.
- As infants barely have hair on their head, their head feels a little warmer than adults.
- As a child’s brain is developing, there is blood circulation going on and that is the reason their head can feel hotter compared to the rest of the body.
- If the temperature of a child's head is 98.5 or 99 degree Fahrenheit and if mother’s hands are at 90 or 92 degrees Fahrenheit, then too the mother can find a child’s forehead way hotter even if the child’s temperature is actually normal.
- So never assume there is fever just by touching your child’s forehead, always use a clinical thermometer to stay assured.
- Digital thermometers are the most reliable and the easiest to use. Place it in the armpit of your child for 1-2 minutes and it will clearly show temperature readings. There is a beep sound that comes when the temperature stops rising. Take that reading and you would accurately know your child’s temperature.
- Scientifically, if the axillary (armpit) temperature reaches 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or is more than that, it is considered as a fever.
Medicine for children having fever:
- Safest option for relieving a child’s fever is paracetamol. Paracetamol is easily available in the market. Choose any medically acclaimed brand which has a good taste so that the child can easily take it. Or you can simply ask your child’s paediatrician.
- Dosage is usually mentioned on the bottle. Dosage depends upon the age and weight of the child. Paracetamol comes in two different preparations. One is the regular preparation and the other is DS- (double strength) preparation.
- Regular paracetamol syrup contains 120-125 mg of paracetamol in 5 ml. Whereas DS paracetamol syrup contains 240-250 mg of paracetamol in 5ml.
- Usual dose that needs to be given is 10-15 mg of paracetamol per kg of a child's weight.
- For example, if your child is say 8 to 10 kgs in weight, 5ml of regular paracetamol is enough. As the weight increases, dosage should also be increased.
- For every 2kg of weight increase, 1ml of syrup should be increased.
- For a child who is 12 to 14 kg, 5 ml of DS paracetamol can be given. Otherwise the child will have to take 7 to 8 ml of regular paracetamol which is more than required.
- Paracetamol is considered the safest medication for children. Certain reports say giving 20 mg per kg of child’s weight is also allowed in a few cases. In a whole day, giving 60 to 80 mg of paracetamol per kg is also considered harmless.
- If it is required, you can give paracetamol after every 4 hours. There are certain diseases in which the fever subsides for 10 to 12 hours, once you have given paracetamol. In such cases there is no issue. But there are other types of diseases where the fever keeps coming back frequently. Here, once you give the medication, the fever subsides for a while but there are toxins in the blood therefore as the effect of medicine subsides; there is rise in temperature again. In such a case you need to give paracetamol after every 4 hours as per required.
- It is very rare that the child’s fever doesn’t subside after taking paracetamol. In most cases children respond well to this medicine yet there can be a few cases where a child’s fever is not affected at all even after taking paracetamol. In that case, you will have to give some other fever medication after consulting your child’s paediatrician.
- If paracetamol does not seem to work for your child, you can try either of these two combinations:
i. Combination of paracetamol and ibuprofen. It is commercially known as ibugesic plus or Combiflam.
ii. Combination of Paracetamol and mefenamic acid. At times when giving Paracetamol doesn’t show any improvement, you can use mefenamic acid - Meftal, which is also a very popular medicine for fever.
- Apart from medicines, you can also use cold packs to decrease your child’s temperature.
- Keep in mind to not use cold refrigerated water cold packs for fever, instead use normal tap water. Soak the cloth in the water, drain excess water and place it over the child’s hands, legs, and forehead. Temperature will eventually subside.
- If the temperature is below 102˚ F the fever is normal, just give plenty of fluids (liquid) and extra rest.
- If the fever is between 102˚ F to 105˚ F give a warm bath or sponge your child with lukewarm water, this will help to reduce the temperature.
- Make the child wear light clothes and use a light blanket.
- Complete rest and good sleep can help the child recover soon.
- Increase the water intake as much as possible.
- Make sure your child(ren) wash hands properly and regularly.
- Make them to avoid touching their mouth, eyes, and nose constantly.
- Maintain hygiene in your child's surrounding.
- Avoid sharing cups/glasses/spoons.