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I have been a mum for 2 years and a half now and before that I worked in a nursery for a couple of months. During that time, I learned a great deal about fever. Fever remains parents’ most common concern and the main reason for the infamous trips to the physician. Fever has traditionally been defined as the rectal temperature measured over 38.0°C. The rise in temperature itself is not a life-threatening condition unless it is an extreme and persistently high when measured rectally. Fever may indicate the presence of an underlying illness, but usually it is caused by common infections. The part of the brain that controls the body temperature is called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus increases the body’s temperature as a way to fight the infection. It is mandatory for the parents to learn simple steps that should be taken as a sort of first aid protocol that might be a life saver for their baby, especially on those cold Friday nights when doctors are hard to find.
According to e-medicine; there are three goals in any home care protocol for a child with fever. First is to control the temperature, second is to prevent dehydration, and third is to monitor for serious or life-threatening illnesses.
Fever Self-Care at Home
- The first goal is to make the child comfortable by monitoring and reducing the fever below (38.9°C). This is achieved using a thermometer and medications and dressing the child appropriately. A warm water bath can also be helpful but should be used for no more than 10 minutes each hour.
To check your child’s temperature, you will need a thermometer. Different types of thermometers are available, including; mercury, digital, and tympanic ones (used in the ear). Most doctors do not recommend tympanic thermometers, because their use outside the clinic is unreliable. Glass thermometers work well but may break, and they take several minutes to get a reading. Digital thermometers are inexpensive and obtain a reading in seconds.
Do not use aspirin to treat fever in children, especially for the fever accompanied by chickenpox, as aspirin has been linked to liver failure in some children. Children should not be overdressed indoors, even in the winter. Overdressing keeps the body from cooling by evaporation, conduction, or convection. The most practical solution is to dress the child in a single layer of clothing, then cover the child with a sheet or a light blanket. A sponge bath in warm water will help reduce a fever. Such a bath is usually not needed but may more quickly reduce the fever. Put the child in a few inches of warm water, and use a sponge or washcloth to wet the skin of the body and arms and legs. The water itself does not cool the child. The evaporation of the water off the skin does, so do not cover the child with wet towels (which would prevent evaporation). Contrary to the popular folk remedy to reduce fever, under no circumstances should rubbing alcohol be used in a bath or rubbed on the skin. Alcohol is usually dangerous to children.
- The second goal is to keep the child from becoming dehydrated. Humans lose extra water from the skin and lungs during a fever:
Encourage the child to drink clear fluids such as non-carbonated drinks without caffeine or juice (not water). Water does not contain the necessary electrolytes and glucose. Other clear fluids are chicken soup, Pedialyte, and other rehydrating drinks available at your grocery or drug store. Tea should not be given because, like any caffeine-containing product, causes you to lose water through urination and may contribute to dehydration. Normally, if well hydrated, your child should be urinating light-colored urine at least every four hours.
- The third goal is to monitor the child for signs of serious or life-threatening illness:
A good strategy is to reduce the child’s temperature to under (39.0°C). Also, make sure the child is drinking enough clear fluids (not water). If both these conditions are met and your child is still looking sick, a more serious problem may exist. Hit the doctor or any hospital directly.