What Is A Fever (High Temperature) In Children?

what-is-fever

Fever is defined as an elevated body heat or high body temperature. If this happens and one develops a fever, the temperatures are usually above 38 degrees Celsius (or above 99 degrees Fahrenheit. More often than not, a fever catches an individual who may be suffering from other ailments and is not considered medically significant until it hits and passes the normal body temperature (37o C/98.6o F).

Basic Facts About Fever

  • Fever is one of the body’s natural defence mechanisms. As such, most fever situations are considered beneficial since they help the body to fight off infections. If treatment is sought, in such a case, it’s usually for increasing comfort.
  • Also, fever is considered a result of an immune response generated by the body when it wants to fight foreign elements or intruders. Such intruders may include fungi, viruses, drugs, bacteria, and other toxic substances.
  • When a child who is under three months develops a fever, a medical doctor’s advice should be sort. In most cases, when the temperatures go higher than the normal, it’s treated as a health hazard that should be treated by a health care professional. If the child is an infant below six weeks old, they should be seen by their doctor immediately a sign manifests itself.
  • Fever is not an ailment or illness. Rather, it’s regarded as a sign or symptom that the body is fighting an infection or illness. As such, when one has a fever, their body’s defence is stimulated and sends the white blood cells and other fighter cells to face and destroy the invaders causing the infection.
  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, and others) and Acetaminophen (Tylenol and others) can be used for treating fever. It’s crucial to note that Aspirin should not be used for treating fever either in children or adolescents.
  • A fever’s prognosis is usually dependent on the causes. Also, most fever cases are self-limited and usually resolve when their symptoms are treated.
  • If a fever develops for anyone who is taking immunosuppressant drugs, medical attention should be sought immediately. Also, anyone with a history of or is diagnosed with diabetes, AIDS, cancer, or heart disease should seek medical assistance any time fever develops.

Fever in Children

For most parents, seeing their kids go down with fever has always been a dreaded situation. Unfortunately, it’s a condition that’s hard to prevent since it’s triggered naturally by the body. When your child develops a fever, their body will try and control the temperatures.

Body temperatures may increase because of a number of reasons including:

  • The body might be making a range of chemicals known as cytokines and mediators. The body makes the chemicals in response to invasions from malignancy, microorganisms, or other intruders.
  • When the body is making more macrophages. Macrophages are cells that the body makes for combating intruders in the body. They “eat-up” the intruding organisms.
  • When the body is busy trying to produce natural infection fighting antibodies. The antibodies are reserved for fighting other invasions or infections when they happen.
  • Most of the body’s benevolent bacteria are enclosed in overcoat-like membranes. When the membrane is broken or disrupted, it might allow toxic substances to enter the body. When the substances escape, the brain is stimulated and raises temperatures.

Conditions that May Cause Fever

The following conditions are highly associated with causing a fever:

  • Reaction to certain medications.
  • Infectious diseases
  • Heart stroke
  • Blood transfusion
  • Disorders in the brain.
  • Some autoimmune diseases.
  • Some cancer types.

When to Tell if Your Child has Fever

For first time parents, knowing whether your child has a fever can be challenging. It’s even harder since and if most of the cases manifest themselves with different signs.

For instance, the baby may start showing signs of discomfort as the temperatures rise. Apart from the body temperatures heating 38o C (99o F) and above, other signs to warn you that your baby may have a fever may include:

  • The child might stop being as active and talkative as they usually are.
  • The child may also seem thirstier, fussier, and less hungry.
  • The baby may also feel hotter or warmer than usual and especially when you touch their forehead, stomach, or back.
  • The baby may start sweating or appear clammy.
  • They might also show flushed cheeks.

Taking Care of A Feverish Child

Once the baby starts showing any of the signs above, you might want first to observe them unless they are below three months. Before calling your doctor or as you wait for them, you might want to keep them comfortable by:

  • Encouraging them or giving them plenty of fluids. If you’re breastfeeding, you may also offer regular breastfeeding.
  • Only offering the child food when they show signs they want to eat.
  • Looking out for signs of dehydration. Such signs may include sunken eyes, dry mouth, fewer wet nappies, or when they show no presence of tears.
  • Checking on the child from time to time especially during the night.
  • Keeping the child away from day-care, childcare, school, or nursery centres. You can at least let the caregivers, school, or nursery know that your baby is unwell just in case.
  • Avoiding bundling the child up in too many bedclothes or usual clothing.
  • You should also avoid undressing the baby or sponging them down to tepid water. Neither of these has been found to help reduce fever.

Home Remedies and Medication

There are a number of medications that have been certified as home remedies before one can see a general practitioner or family doctor. If your child starts showing signs of distress, children’s ibuprofen or paracetamol may work for them. The two should, however, never be used together.

If the child takes either medication and nothing changes, you can try the other after some time. This should be before the next dose is due.

For paracetamol, the recommended age is from two months and below. Ibuprofen, on the other hand, is recommended for children who are three years of age and above. The kids should also weigh ideally more than 5kgs (or 11 lbs).

Points to note while doing home medication include reading the instructions on the medication packaging properly. You should also never try to exceed the recommended dose to try and catalyse the recovery process.

Also, you should never administer aspirin to children who are below the age of 16.

In addition, if the child has asthma, you should first seek professional advice from a general practitioner or your family doctor. Avoid administering ibuprofen to them before consulting a professional.

When Should You See A Doctor?

You should always seek medical intervention if:

  • The baby is three months old or below, and their temperatures have risen to 38o C (99o F) or higher.
  • The child is between 3 and six months old, and their temperatures have risen to 39o C (100o F) or higher.
  • You suspect the child is dehydrated.
  • The child starts developing red rashes that do not fade away when you roll a glass over them.
  • The kid has a fit (convulsion).
  • The child is constantly crying, and you can’t distract, cool, or console them.
  • The child’s cry sounds different from their normal one.
  • The kid has a high-pitched sound when they are crying.
  • The child has a fever that has lasted more than five days.
  • The child’s health is getting worse despite being on medication.
  • The baby appears uncomfortable.

Conclusion

Taking care of a young child can be an exciting moment yet challenging. This is because you are bringing up a human being who has the weakest immune system. With that, it means the child is prone to many ailments, and body conditions and fever is one of them. However, this may not be a big cause of alarm after all since all kids get a fever. The challenge comes around when you don’t know what to do when it happens. The bigger issues though are when and how to know it’s happening or diagnosing it without prior experience. With a general practitioner or family doctor, however, you can always get help whenever you notice any of the changes associated with high fever immediately your child starts exhibiting them.

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