What We Should Know About Child Fevers

Saturday, March 12, 2016


A week ago I was so worried because my son had an on and off fever. Although it's a low grade fever, still, I worried because I believe having a fever indicates that there's something wrong inside his body.

So I was right, when we took him to the pediatric clinic, the doctor saw an infection on his two ears. A few weeks before that, my son had small pimple-like rashes on his nose and lower part of his eyes. He had antibiotic for 7 days so I was complacent that there’s no infection when he complained a slight pain on his ears. Good thing we went to the doctor when his low grade fever became a fever already.

The doctor prescribed a follow up antibiotic he would drink for 3 days, once a day only. Thank God, the fever was gone on that day and everything went fine. Oh, whenever my son is sick I am always the great worrier. It’s a normal response especially if we are not used to seeing our children sick. But there are useful information about fever that we should know so we can sweep our worries away.

Child fevers are normal. A fever is the body’s natural and healthy response to infection. It’s not necessarily a sign of something serious illness. Fever is part of body's normal infection-fighting process. The body's immune system releases chemicals that raise the body temperature, to make it harder for the bacteria and viruses that cause infection to surviveThat's why low-grade fevers should not be treatedIt's helpful in fighting off infection. Paracetamol or ibuprofen can be given to treat any distress or discomfort caused by the fever.

Causes of child fever. While most fevers are caused by an infection or another illness, there are top 3 causes of child fevers. First is viral infection (like roseola, colds, flu, coxsackie or hand, foot and mouth disease, chicken pox, fifth disease, and many others), which is the most common cause of fever in children. Viruses are not treatable with antibiotics but most of them are not dangerous. They will get by itself without any specific treatment. Next is bacterial infection (like ear infection, sinus infection, pneumonia, bladder infection and strep throat) that can be treated with antibiotics. And the last most common cause of child fever not usually higher than 38.4 C is teething.

Know when fever is most likely not seriousLow-grade child fevers of 37.3 to 38.3 Celsius are generally not serious. If it happened at night, there's no need to rush our child to the emergency room right then and there. It can easily be treated and can wait until the morning for doctor’s evaluation. Also, fevers of 38.4 to 39.5 Celsius are generally not serious and can wait until morning to be evaluated. And fevers of over 39.8 C but quickly come down to 37.3 to 38.3 C with treatment measure (like giving paracetamol) can also wait until morning for evaluation. However, if an infant 6 weeks or younger has a fever of 38.4 Celsius or higher, the doctor should evaluate your infant right away.
child fever, fever, treatment

Know the symptoms of serious illness. Call the doctor right away if the child of any age has one or more of the following signs of more serious illness, if the child has/is: (1) high fever of 40 Celsius or higher that won’t come down with any treatment measures; (2) unresponsive, lifeless or won’t make eye contact; (3) continuously crying for hours; (4) unusually sleepy; and (5) non-blanching rash or rash that doesn’t fade when the skin is pressed firmly. 

Know first aid/treatment for child fever. Even if we are worried about our child, we should stay calm and alert. Knowing what we can do as first aid or treatment for fever at home is a great help. First, get the child’s body temperature and design whether the fever warrants treatment. If fever is high, give medication like paracetamol or ibuprofen to treat discomfort if there’s any, and a cool washcloth sponge to help get the fever down fast. Give also cold drinks to help in cooling down the fever and to keep him hydrated.

Honestly, I always commit a mistake of giving my son paracetamol every time his body temperature is above normal, which is not good. I just learned that the rise in body temperature is actually a body's defense to threaten the virus and bacteria. But you can't blame a mother who will not used to seeing her son sick.

Anyway, I hope the above information give you awareness on what we should know about child fevers. Let's stay cool and calm, and always listen to our mother's instinct. 

Happy weekend!