High fever in children may be a symptom of any infection or disease. Fever is an indicator that the body is fighting with causes like external infections or viruses. Fatigue and lethargy in children are the common visible symptoms of illness among kids. Fever is not a disease. It is the defense mechanism of the body by which it does not allow the invading bacteria to grow and multiply.
Very few people know how to take an accurate temperature of the body. In high fever it is very important to bring down the temperature, especially in very small children. Cold water sponging is one of the most important thing to avoid the harmful effect of high temperature on the brain.
What is high fever (temperature) in children ?
This is a common question in the mind of parents. The temperature more than 102°F – 103°F in infants or toddlers is considered as high fever.
How to reduce high fever in children at home ?
Call your doctor and while waiting for the medical help, try to reduce high fever in child at home by cold water sponging.
Cold water sponging of the body and head is the best for small children, as they can get convulsions (fits) during high fever. During such a fit, arms and legs will shake with jerky movements and the infant might go blue in the face. The fit lasts for a few seconds.
If the baby has a fit during fever, lay him on the stomach over a pillow to prevent choking. Vomiting during fit can cause the secretion to go into the lungs.
During high fever, remove the clothes and starts sponging the body with cold water. Put a napkin soaked in cold water on the forehead every five minutes. Sponge the arms, front of chest, abdomen and back frequently. You can keep the fan running while sponging, if required. Add eau de cologne or alcohol to the sponging water if possible.
Precaution: Ice cold water can be used for the sponging on the head. Do not apply ice cold water to large areas of the body and the abdomen, as it may cause chills and discomfort to the child.
Paracetamol can be given within every 4-5 hours till the temperature comes down, but only after pediatrician’s advice. In children (1-5 years) Paracetamol Syrup, two teaspoonfuls every 4-5 hours can be given safely. In very small infants (below 1-year) ‘half-teaspoonful’ or 8-10 drops of Paracetamol syrup should be given.
- Give plenty of cold water sips and fresh water to the toddler during high fever, it will help to bring down the temperature very fast. If you do not give water to the child the temperature will not come down in spite of the best medicines.
- Do not cover the patient with heavy blanks or put on too many clothes during high fever. One bed sheet over a shirt is enough.
Diet During Fever
- Mostly liquid diet like plain water, fruit juices, milk, tea, coffee, besides bread, cornflakes, porridge and various soups can be given during high fever in children. Avoid heavy, fried and spicy foods.
- If there is vomiting, wait for 1-2 hours and then give food in small amount.
- Breast feeding can be done during fever.
How to take baby temperature ?
Wipe the thermometer clean. For kids over 5-years, keep it for two minutes minimum under the tongue. If the baby is very small or below 5-years, put thermometer for 2-5 minutes under the arm of child. Underarm method can be used with very sick and unconscious patients also. Add 1°F to the reading outcome in underarm method to find accurate body temperature, because this is little lower than actual body temperature.
If it is mercury thermometer, shake it with downward flicks so that the mercury comes down into the bulb and the reading is below the normal mark. Each thermometer bears a red mark at 98.4°F or 37°C which is the normal temperature of the body. Take the temperature reading within every half an hour, which is ideal during high fever. Noting the temperature every 5-10 minutes is useless.
Now a days, a latest technology digital and ear thermometers are very popular. This is very easy to use in baby fever. It is placed into the infant’s ear for a while to give instant and exact results.
These days an alternative method of taking temperature is available in the form of temperature strips. These are plastic strips to be placed on the forehead. They change color to give an idea of the temperature. This method is not widely practiced though it is very convenient in children.
An important thing to remember is to add 1°F to the temperature strips reading as it has the tendency to show a reading lower than the existing temperature of the body.