Child care: Fever

Among children below 5 years old, a temperature higher than 37.5 degrees C is considered as fever. It is important to note that fever is quite common in young children.

The onset of fever is triggered by minor viral infections such as common cold or cough. Fortunately, it can be easily managed at home. An elevated temperature can be quite bothersome for most parents but many children can recover without any issues after a few days.

How to tell if a child has fever

A child might have a fever if he/she feels warm than usual upon touching the back, forehead or stomach, feels clammy or sweaty and has flushed cheeks.

If a child is suspected with fever, you have to check the temperature using a thermometer.

Caring for a child with fever

Fever

Monitor for any signs of dehydration such as absence of tears, dry mouth and sunken eyes. As for infants, there are only a few soiled diapers and a sunken fontanelle (soft spot on the head).

When a child is down with fever, there are ways to keep the child comfortable.

  • Encourage the child to drink more fluids. If being breastfed, offer regular breastfeeds.
  • Provide the child with food if he/she wants to eat
  • Monitor for any signs of dehydration such as absence of tears, dry mouth and sunken eyes. As for infants, there are only a few soiled diapers and a sunken fontanelle (soft spot on the head).
  • Regularly check the child from time to time during the night
  • Do not allow the child to go to school

If the child appears distressed, you can provide him/her with ibuprofen or paracetamol. Just remember that these should not be given together. On the other hand, if the child was given one medication and does not seem to help, you can give the other one before the next dose is due.

Carefully check the instructions on the packet or bottle and do not provide more than the recommended dosage. Do not provide aspirin to children below 16 years old. In addition, do not bundle the child in layers of clothes or blankets.

When to seek further care

In case you are concerned about the health of the infant or child, consult a doctor. There are instances in which consulting a doctor is vital such as the following:

  • The infant is below 3 months old and has a temperature of 38 degrees C or higher.
  • The infant is 3-6 months old with temperature of 39 degrees C or higher
  • The child might be dehydrated
  • Child develops a red-colored rash that does not fade when a glass is rolled over it
  • Child experiences a convulsion or fit
  • Child is inconsolable and does not stop crying or has an unusual or high-pitched sound while crying
  • The health of the child is deteriorating
  • Fever lasts for more than 5 days

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