The first time fever in a baby is often scary for parents. Most fevers are harmless, however it can be a sign of a serious
Fever is only a manifestation of an illness which is usually caused by a virus or a bacteria or an inflammatory response. Over clothing may also cause a rise in temperature.
Fever is body's natural response to an infection and an important part of the body's defense mechanism. A child has fever, if the body temperature is 38"F or above including newborns. Depending on the child's age one can check the temperature from the Skin, mouth or armpit. Many parents have fever phobia and overreact.
What to expect
Tiredness, pale looks, shivers, less of appetite. Sometimes fever can lead to fits called Febrile Convulsions. A child may lose consciousness or be confused for a couple of minutes. This does not cause brain damage.
When to rush to a doctor
- If a child is lethargic and fever comes back frequently
- Passing less urine
- Infant age < 3 months with temperature of 38"F or higher
- Any age a fever of 39 "F or higher
- Associated symptoms, such as a sore throat, earache, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, or a cough
- Recent immunization
- Bluish or mottled skin, shrill & inconsolable cry, difficult or fast breathing, a stiff neck or a rash Fever lasting for up to a week or more
Infections such as common viral infections like cold or flu and settle without any major treatment or may be more severe, such as a UTI, pneumonia, meningitis, septicemia or tuberculosis. Non-infectious causes could be certain auto-immune disorders or cancers.
- Child should drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
- Do not give too much fruit or apple juice as they interfere with medications.
- Give small sips of fluids, if the child is vomiting.
- Give regular healthy and bland food. Do not force to eat. A bland diet is good made up of foods that are soft, not very spicy, and low in fiber.
- Fever medicines make the child feel better, however do not cure it. Focus on how the child looks, feels, and acts rather than what the thermometer says.
- Never use aspirin for a child < 16 years as it can cause a fatal liver condition.
- A lukewarm bath or sponging may temporarily bring down fever. Stay away from cold water and ice baths. This will make the child shiver and raise body temperature.
- There is probably no cause for alarm if your child has a fever. You need to be careful and act accordingly.
Dr. Sisir Paul
Senior Consultant & Head Dept. of Paediatrics
Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket