When you notice your child having less energy than usual, a body temperature of 37.8 C or 100 F (or higher), and a decreased appetite, chances are: they may have caught a fever.
Although as parents, it’s natural that we’re worried — however, fevers are also a natural way that your child’s body fights off any virus or infection that they’re down with. Read on to learn more about childhood fevers and what you can do to treat them.
What is Fever
Fevers are not actually a disease or illness. Rather, it’s a symptom to show that your body has been infected by a virus or something nasty. Without a fever, you probably wouldn’t know that your child is down with an infection. Think of it as the natural alarm system of your body.
A fever is usually defined as a body temperature of 37.8 C or 100 F or higher, measured with a thermometer.
Causes of Fever in Toddlers
More often than not, your toddler’s fever will be caused by viruses and bacteria. For example:
These are your colds and flu. For the most part, fever is the first symptom your child experiences when they get a viral infection, then comes the runny nose and sometimes coughs. If fever is your child’s only symptom and lasts for 3 to 5 days, they might have Roseola. You’d be able to tell if your child has roseola, as you’ll also see small, pink, and flat spots on their chest and stomach.
Untreated sinus congestion can cause fevers. You’ll know it’s a sinus infection if your child’s fever has already gone away, and then comes back.
You can instantly know your child’s fever is caused by a bacterial infection when no one else in your household gets sick as well.
Meningitis is a common example. You’ll know they have it if, on top of having a fever, they also have a stiff neck, headache, and are more confused than usual. Give your child immediate medical attention when you notice these symptoms as delay or lack of treatment can cause more serious damage.
Can Teething Cause Fever?
This is a myth. While teething can cause a child’s temperature to rise, research shows that it does not cause fever.
However, if your toddler is displaying signs of teething accompanied by a fever, it can be due to a viral infection as teething can be a soothing action that your child is doing.
Treatment of Fever
While you shouldn’t be too worried if your toddler has a fever, there are still some things you can do to help your child feel better in this situation.
One of the most common methods of treating fever at home is giving fever medicine. Doctors often prescribe acetaminophen and ibuprofen to treat fevers. If your child is below 2 years old, you’d need to consult the doctor for the right dosage.
Be ready with your toddler’s most recent weight, as they base the dosage on that. If your child is above 2 years of age, the right dosage is usually at the back of the packaging. If your child does not have the typical weight for his age, consult your doctor for the right dosage.
- Follow the 4-hour interval
Parents ought to administer fever medicine to their children every four hours if and when their child still has a temperature of 37.8 C or 100 F or higher.
- Use the right medium to give the medicine
You should use a spoon and a cup which has measurement indicators, so you can ensure you’re giving an accurate amount of the medication. Eyeballing is a big no-no as it could lead to either an overdose or under-dose for your little one.
- Do not give fever medicine when your child doesn’t need it
Acetaminophen is a pain reliever and is meant to help regulate the body’s temperature. So, if your child has a low-grade fever (below 37.8 C or 100 F) or if they’re not in any discomfort, do not give them acetaminophen. Should they feel uncomfortable, then you can.
Your child’s paediatrician will usually tell you if you can give your toddler acetaminophen after they’ve had their shot.
- Do not be in a hurry
Acetaminophen is not a miracle drug. So, if after administering it, your toddler’s fever does not instantaneously go down, do not panic. Give the medicine some time to take effect.
Impatience can lead to overdosing. Some parents would give another dose without reaching the full four hours because they’re frustrated the child’s temperature has not gone down yet. You can make matters worse by giving doses beyond the prescription.
What you can do instead is to try other home remedies to bring your child’s temperature down like giving him a sponge bath or increasing fluid intake.
- Do not mix acetaminophen with other medicine
This is another way parents get around giving the right dose but are unsatisfied with its results. They administer another medicine like cough and cold medicines.
Do not mix cough and cold medicines with fever meds as the side effects can be serious and even life-threatening. If your child needs to take these medicines as well, ask their paediatrician about the proper interval in giving them.
Home Remedies for Fever
There are other ways of treating a fever apart from medicine. And using these methods on top of medicine can do wonders. We will debunk several hoax home remedies as we discuss them as well, so you know to avoid them next time.
- Give your child plenty of fluids
Fevers can cause dehydration and fluid loss. So, make sure to hydrate your child as much as you can.
- Put some cool compress on their forehead
The compress should be not too hot nor cold — just cool enough that your toddler can withstand the chill. A lukewarm sponge bath would also help make them feel better and help regulate their temperature. (An ice bath can actually drive a fever back up!)
- Put your child in light clothing
It’s a myth that bundling your child up can help to break a fever. In fact, it does not help bring down their temperature and might even increase their discomfort or cause overheating.
When to Call the Doctor for Toddler’s Fever
Fever can often be managed and eventually goes away after 3 days. If that does not seem to be the case, then you can proceed to give your child more medical attention. These are the signs that you should look out for:
- A temperature of 40 C or 104 F or higher
- Becomes too weak to stand or move
- Severe trouble breathing
- Spots on skin
- Has severe headaches
If you notice any of these signs, rush to call your toddler’s doctor or go straight to the emergency room.
Just keep these pieces of advice in mind whenever your toddler gets a fever, and you and your child will be just fine.
Need to purchase some OTC medication for your little one? You can find an array of OTC medication for common children conditions on our DA Marketplace, with free delivery to your home. Of course, it’s always best to check in with a doctor on the medication that you’re administering to your child. You can speak to a doctor anytime on the DA app, from the comfort of your home.
Seattle Children’s, WebMD, Sutter Health, Mayo Clinic, News Network
This article was first published on The Asian Parent and is republished with permission.