What is fever? Why is it so common?
Normal body temperature varies with age, general health, activity level, and time of day. Temperature is highest between late afternoon and early evening, and lowest between midnight and early morning.
A fever is body temperature that is higher than normal. Normal body temperature ranges between 97.5°F (36.4°C) and 99.5°F (37.5°C). Most paediatricians consider a temperature above 100.4°F (38°C) as a sign of fever.
What are the causes of fever? What are the symptoms?
A fever is usually a sign that the body is fighting an illness or infection. Infections are usually due to virus, which can clear up without treatment but occasionally it is a sign of serious bacterial illness.
Your child may feel warm, appear flushed, sweat, or be thirstier than usual. Some children feel fine when they have a fever. Most children will have other symptoms of the illness that is causing the fever. Examples include earache, a sore throat, cough, rash or a stomach ache.
How do you check for fever?
Always use a digital thermometer to check your child’s temperature. There are different types of digital thermometers, namely:
- Digital multi-use thermometer. This is used in the rectal area (bottom) for children aged 3 and below, or axillary (underarm) area, and has a sensor located at the tip that touches that part of the body and reads the temperature.
- Tympanic thermometer. Used in the ear, this type of thermometer reads infrared heat waves released by the eardrum, and can be used for children 6 months and older.
- Temporal artery thermometer. It reads infrared heat waves released by the temporal artery, thus the temperature is checked from the child’s temples. It can be used for children 3 months and older.
While other methods for taking your child’s temperature are available, such as pacifier thermometers or fever strips, they are not recommended at this time.
What are the home remedies for fever? How do I make my child feel better?
Drink plenty of fluids, wear light clothing, and keep your child in a cool and well-ventilated room environment.
You can do tepid sponging for your child to bring down the temperature. Remove your child’s clothing and cover your child with a towel. Use lukewarm water and apply cool compress to the forehead, nape of neck, armpits and groin and sponge the body from front to back. Do not sponge for more than 30 minutes and stop if your child shivers or turns blue.
When should my child see a doctor?
- Fever rises above 104°F (40°C) repeatedly
- If your child is younger than 3 months (12 weeks) and has a temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher
- Fever persists for more than 24 hours in a child younger than 2 years
- Fever persists for more than 72 hours in a child older than 2 years
- Has difficulty breathing
- Has decreased urine and is feeding poorly
- Has repeated vomiting or diarrhoea
- Has an unexplained rash
- Has a stiff neck, severe headache or a seizure
- Looks ill, drowsy or irritable
DID YOU KNOW…
- Fever is the body’s way to fight infection. It means that your child’s immune system is working and the body is trying to heal itself.
- How high the fever is does not indicate the severity of the illness.
- Viral fevers can last 5 to 7 days.
- High fever itself does not cause brain damage. However a small percentage of children between 6 months and 6 years old may have seizures with high fever.
- Overwrapping and a hot environment can cause body temperature to be slightly above normal.