WHEN DEALING WITH FEVERS
- A fever is usually a sign that something out of the ordinary is going on in your body. DO NOT PANIC. It is a protective mechanism. Fever is the most common sign of illness in children. Parents become very anxious when their child suffers from fever. We must remember that fever is a defence mechanism that helps the child fight infection.
How to take the temperature:
For infants, children ear thermometers are most convenient to measure the temperature. They are not as accurate as the mercury thermometers but are quick to read the temperature. The temperature can be measured placing the mercury thermometer under the arms (axilla) or in the mouth.
- If the fever is mild and accompanied with no other problems/complaints one may not need treatment. Only precautions with increased fluid intake and rest may be sufficient. If the fever continues to rise then one must treat it.
- It is important to find out what is causing the fever. Some of the common causes of fever are – viral fevers, upper or lower respiratory tract infections, ear infections, stomach infection, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, measles, chicken pox, malaria, dengue etc. Even teething can cause a rise in temperature in infants.
- DO NOT bundle up the child suffering from fever.
- Remove excess clothing or blankets. The room should be comfortable, not too hot or cool. Try one layer of lightweight clothing, and one lightweight blanket for sleep. If the room is hot or stuffy, a fan may help. Even in case of children, do not over clothe them unless necessary.
- A tap water bath or sponge bath may help cool someone with a fever. In case of infants and toddlers use of lukewarm water is advisable.
- Do NOT use cold baths or ice. These cool the skin, but often make the situation worse by causing shivering. In case of children it may lead to a shock in the child due to the sudden cold water exposure.
FEBRILE CONVULSIONS –
A febrile convulsion is a fit associated with a significant rise in body temperature. In Hindi, it is called ‘aakadi’. They most commonly occur in children between the ages of 6 months to 6 years.
Convulsions which come along with fever are not dangerous and don’t cause brain damage. But they can be frightening to watch. Usually the febrile convulsion passes away on its own. The most important thing is to stay calm when your child is having a convulsion. While the child is having one make sure there is nothing hard around them such as chairs etc. Put soft cushions around them to protect them. Do not put your fingers in their mouth to stop clenching of teeth. By the time you rush to the doctor with the child the convulsion usually fades off within less than 5 minutes. If the convulsion is lasting longer than 5 minutes, or if your child does not wake up or looks very sick then contact the doctor. Convulsions which come on without fever are of concern and must be brought to the notice of the doctor.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Water, soup etc. are all good choices.
- If children refuse to eat during fever, stay calm, and give them small frequent meals. Don’t force-feed them. Once the infection causing the fever settles, their appetite will be restored.
Food restrictions will depend on the cause of the fever. For example – If the fever is due to upper or lower respiratory tract infection avoid cold food, cold drinks, refrigerated items, etc. Fruits like apple, chickoo, papaya are only permitted.
If the fever is due to loose motions avoid eating a heavy diet. Keep the meals light and small. Drink more fluids