It’s a reason to lose sleep. It’s something that will worry you for hours. It’s a parents worst nightmare…a fever. A fever can transform your happy go lucky kid into a listless zombie. Lack of energy, red face and ears, and loss of appetite are all reasons to suspect your child may have a fever. Fever seems scary…but actually it’s not.
When children get fevers it is because they have an infection of some sort brewing in their bodies. It could be a bacterial, fungal, or viral infection. Fever is a good thing because it’s there to help destroy and eliminate the infection. However good it may be though, fevers need to be closely monitored and treated. Fevers can signal a very serious infection. Prompt medical attention is required when a fever is very high.
The first and most logical thing to do if you think your child may have a fever is to break out the good old thermometer. Take that temperature. It’s important to check for a fever when the first signs appear. Fever can be serious. Never give medication if you only suspect you child has a fever. Check it first to confirm your suspicion. There are a few different ways, and places that a temperature can be taken. There are several devices which take temperatures. One way is to use a mercury thermometer.
Make sure it’s clean and sterile with a swipe of isopropyl rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball. Rinse with coldish water, never hot. Shake and insert. Mercury thermometers can be used orally, under the arm pit, or rectally. Oral use requires the child to hold the thermometer securely under their tongue. This is very difficult for a little one to do but it is quite accurate for those ages five and over. A young toddler or a baby will not keep the thermometer in place as well as an older child there for the temperature reading will most likely be lower than actual temperature.
A fever may go untreated due to a false reading. Normal, when using a mercury thermometer, falls between 95.9 up to 99.5 F. Mercury thermometers can be inserted under the arm pit as well. This is a backup method of fever taking used when the temperature cannot be taken orally. It’s not quite as accurate, but if all else fails you can trust in it. Normal temperature reading for under the arm pit temperatures are between 94.5 F up to 99.2 F. Anything higher is considered fever. A mercury thermometer can also be used rectal too.
There’s another device, a blessing to all parents…the digital thermometer. It’s a parents best friend when a fever strikes. A digital thermometer is by far the most accurate when properly used. When used it is simply held in the ear gently for maybe 25 seconds. Most beep when done and the temperature is displayed. An electronic digital thermometer can be used in the ear, underarm, mouth, or rectum. The best place to choose is the ear though. It is quick, painless, simple, and accurate for all of your children ages newborn to adult.
Normal temperature falls between 96.2 F and 99. 6 F when taken in the ear. If it is taken under the arm normal ranges from 94.5 F to 99.2 F. In the mouth normal falls between 95.9 F and 99.5 F. In the rectum fever is anything above 100.4 F. If you’ve taken your child’s temperature and it falls more than a couple of degrees above normal you’ll need to call your doctor ASAP. If your child’s fever is mild to moderate you still should call the doctor. Your doctor will most likely instruct you to administer fever reducer every four to six hours as needed. Any doctor will tell you that if a fever remains after a few days the child needs to be seen promptly and checked for infection.
Antibiotics may be needed. I really don’t recommend anyone giving children medicine before they seek their doctors opinion. Especially when it comes to newborns and infants. Fever should always be checked by the doctor when it’s struck in a newborn or an infant. Toddlers can be home treated for mild fevers yes, but the doctor should definitely know and give approval. Parents must be very careful, reading all instructions, dosage info, and precautions. Dosage must be accurate in amount.
To little medication won’t work effectively, to much is like poison. Timing is very important. If the label says ever four hours and not to exceed so many doses in so many hours to those directions to heart! Follow them and you won’t have any problems. Older kids have parents who have been there and done that several times before. Still, a call to the doctor is always wise and any parent of an older child will probably say the same!
Monitoring fever is an important thing to do. Keeping track of all you’ve monitored and all medicine you’ve given is equally important. On a piece of paper keep track of it all. Write it all down. Temperature, date and time. Medicine, amount given, fever when given, amount and time. Don’t try to remember it all. Accidental overdosing happens when parents forget the last time medicine was given. Fevers come back with a vengeance when parents forget what time to does again. Writing it all down makes life so much easier, and safer regarding fevers!
There are some things you NEVER want to do if your child has a fever. Never put them into a cool or cold bath! Lukewarm to warm, maybe. Cool to cold can cause shock though! You can make your child’s fever much worse by submerging them in cold water! Their bodies will automatically try to warm back up, causing the fever to be higher and possibly shock. Also, another thing to NEVER do is try to make your child “sweat it out”. Layering on blankets can be fatal. If you child’s fever is very high and you layer on blankets you can literally overheat your child.
This can also cause shock, along with a variety of other problems. It’s just not a good idea. The best thing to do is remove layers to adjust comfort. Don’t remove all of your child’s clothing or remove enough to chill them…just make sure that they themselves are not layered with tee-shirts and sweatshirts. The same idea goes for giving your child hot drinks. This too will actually encourage the fever and raise the body temperature even higher. That’s never good.
Well, there you have it. Now you know what to use and how to take your child’s temperature. You know to call the doctor and how to very carefully medicate. You know what to do and what NOT to do! The next fever you child gets will be a little less scary. Knowledge is your best defense in keeping your child safe and healthy!