Most of us consider fever as a medical ailment, but on the contrary it is not. It is one of the natural responses of the body. In fact, the body may produce a low-grade fever in order to eliminate a viral or a bacterial infection that has invaded the same. The extra heat created by the body makes it difficult for the pathogen to survive. The normal average temperature of the body is 37 degree Celsius (98.6 degree F). For a person, his/her normal body temperature can be a little higher or lower than this measure. So when a person's body temperature rises above the normal range, he/she is said to have a fever. For adults, until the measure is below 103 degree F (39.4 degree C), the condition does not raise any concern. However, with young kids, and infants, this does not hold true.
Even a slight raise in their temperature, is most likely to indicate something seriously amiss in the body. The symptoms that may accompany fever, occur according to the underlying cause of the problem; those commonly observed in infants include poor feeding, abnormal irritability, increased crying (more when moved), and abnormally lethargic and unresponsive. And in younger children, symptoms such as being irritable, frequent vomiting, not making eye contact, and being unresponsive, necessitates the need to sent for medical help.
Managing Fever in Children
According to doctors, a fever that is below 102 degree F (38.9 degree C) must not be treated. As said, a low-grade fever is the body's own response to eliminate the infection. So by treating the fever, especially aggressively, may interfere with the immune system, and suppress the symptoms without treating them thus, may make it difficult to determine the cause of the fever.
Also in children, the part of the brain that is responsible for temperature regulation is not fully developed. And it is because of this, children and infants are more sensitive towards temperature changes in their surroundings, thus experience rapid rise and fall of their body temperature.
So unless the temperature is dangerously high, or is accompanied by the symptoms as mentioned above, try the following measures to break the fever and make your child more comfortable:
- The first thing you can do is remove the child's clothing and any extra bedding material. A thin layer of clothing and a thin blanket are good enough. By doing this you are letting off the heat to escape from his/her body easily.
- Place the baby in a room that is not too hot or too cold. Never put your baby in the shower or bath him/her in cold or hot water to break or bring down the fever. This may worsen the condition. Instead, sponge bathing the baby for about 5 to 10 minute with lukewarm water can be cooling. However, ensure that you quickly pat dry your baby lest it may make him/her feel cold, and this might increase the temperature further.
- It is very important that you encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids including water. Fever usually causes fluid loss and dehydration, and so drinking fluids such as water, juices or broth help in avoiding such things. If your child is under age 1, then oral rehydration solution is more suitable.
- Resting is another important measure that you need to consider. Fever takes a lot out from the body, especially when the affected is a kid. So let your child sleep more than he/she normally does. This would buy more time for the body to fight off the infection, and bring down the fever.
As far as medications are concerned, given the tender age of children, it is always a safer choice to consult a health care provider or a doctor regarding the same. Children do not response to medications as the way we adults do. So try the above methods to bring down the fever, and if they do not work, then better consult a pediatrician.