Has your little one been struck down with a fever? Burning up and feeling under the weather is no fun for anyone. Yet knowing when to keep your cool and when to head straight to the doctors can be tricky.
So here’s a handy fever treatment guide to help you make the call.
It’s a given for most parents that we become alarmed when our kid has a fever. After all, they go from being spritely to anything but, which is kinda scary!
However, as uncomfortable as a fever is, it’s SO important to understand that the sky-high body temp is a sign their body is doing what it’s supposed to do – it’s fighting infection. The high temp is an inbuilt defence mechanism to ward off nasties if you will. Nonetheless, here’s your go-to guide to fever treatment.
What is a fever?
Simply put, a fever is a high temperature. A body temperature above 38°C is considered a fever.
However, there are different definitions of fever. A mild or low-grade fever is a body temperature between 37.8°C and 38.5°C; while a high-grade fever is a reading above 38.5°C.
What causes a fever?
According to Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Services, more than 90% of fevers in kids are caused by viral infections which cannot be treated with antibiotics. Bacterial infections also cause fever.
Other niggling things that can cause a short-term rise in body temperature include overdressing young babies who can’t yet regulate their own body temperature, immunisations and teething.
But remember: A fever is common in children and is the body’s way of fighting infection.
How do I know if my kid has a fever?
If your child has a high temperature (a thermometer reading above 38°C), they have a fever. Other symptoms can include:
- Hot to touch
- Feeling miserable and/or uncomfortable, not interested in playing
- Vomiting or refusing to eat or drink
What should I do in the way of fever treatment?
A lot of children can manage a-ok with a fever. But for parents with a focus on fever treatment, first and foremost keep your cool! Remember fever is rarely harmful, so it is best to treat your kid’s discomfort rather than the fever itself.
- Use a reliable thermometer to take your child’s temperature. The less intrusive, easy to read the better. We love the Braun AgeSmart ThermoScan 7 ear thermometer or the just-launched (and rather incredible) Braun Touchless + Forehead Thermometer (BNT400). Make a note of the time and your child’s temperature reading. Check their temperature regularly throughout the day to see if it’s getting lower or spiking.
- Ensure your child is drinking lots of fluids. Children with a fever need more fluids than what they normally would, so offer a sip from a cup often. Give extra breast-feeds, formula bottles or cooled boiled water to babies under six months old.
- Don’t overdress your child. Gently remove excessive layers (coats and blankets). If children are shivering, add light layers just until they stop. Not too hot, not too cold is the aim!
- Avoid sponging down or plunging children into cold baths. These only cause your child to shiver and bring even more discomfort.
- Let them rest and give lots of cuddles. A fever isn’t a nice thing to have to endure and children can find feeling hot, cold and flat particularly frustrating.
- Paracetamol or ibuprofen may help to reduce high fever or pain. Give doses according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Do not give ibuprofen to babies under three months old or to any child who is dehydrated. Never give aspirin to children.
- If you’d prefer a natural remedy, try Esberitox. Containing a bunch of herbs (such as Echinacea, Thuja and Babtisia), it supports the body’s immune system and helps reduce the severity of cold and flu symptoms. The chewable tablets are suitable for kids aged 4 plus (adults can take them too!).
When to see a doctor
As a worried parent, it can be difficult to decide whether you should take your child to the doctor or whether you’re over-reacting. While it’s good to always go with your gut, here are some instances in which you should take a trip to your doctor.
Babies under three months old with a fever (temperature above 38°C) should be taken to see the doctor. Additionally,
- All newborns and young babies aged under three months should see a doctor, regardless.
- If your child looks very sick, is poorly responsive, is uninterested in his or her surroundings, is very sluggish, and/or won’t feed from the breast or bottle
- Any child with a weakened immune system due to a medical condition who has a fever above 38°C should be taken to the doctor.
- If he or she has a fever of 40°C or higher
- If they cry constantly
- A child that is difficult to wake up or rouse
- If they have a stiff neck
- You see purple spots or a rash appears on their skin
- Breathing appears difficult or becomes shallow
- If the child is drooling excessively or having difficulty swallowing
- Where there is the presence of an earache or sore throat, or the child is pulling at ears
- A child who is limp or will not use an arm or leg
- In the case of severe abdominal pain
- If they are having difficulty urinating and/or complains that it’s sore to go to the toilet
- You notice redness or swelling on his or her body
- If your child’s fever lasts more than a few days
- If they have a seizure (fit, convulsion)
Remember, you know your child best. As always, exercise your mother’s intuition or “mum-gut”. If something is niggling you that it’s not right, you should contact your doctor or visit your local hospital as soon as possible.
In the event of an emergency, always ring 000
We’re in the thick of cold and flu season too, here’s how to deal with all the kid’s runny noses and preventing the spread of cold and flu.