Fever In Children (confusing With Covid-19 Symptoms) And When To Reach Out To The Doctor
Seeing your child sick is a heartbreaking scene, and a slight fever is enough to alert the parental instincts and switch on the protective emergency mode!
Fever is a sign of the body's immune system fighting against an underlying infection, and in the case of children, a temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit is considered a fever and at certain times may need to be addressed medically.
1. Fever in babies below 6 months always needs medical attention irrespective of the temperature. Their immune system and other biological systems are still under development and not ready to fight infections causing the fever.
2. For children of age 6 months upto 36 months, a temperature above 100.4 degrees but is maintained below 102 is usually nothing to worry about. With this temperature range, if your child is eating well, behaving normally, the fever should go away on its own in a day or two.
3. In children of age above 3 years, fever measure upto 102 degrees Fahrenheit is not concerning unless the child is in discomfort or has headache, body pain. If any other symptoms occur along with a fever, it is advised to reach out to a medical practitioner.
4. If you are not sure about your child's fever/temperature and feel that the child is in pain, immediately seek the advice of your health care provider.
What is a Fever?
The body temperature is maintained by our inbuilt "thermostat" found in the hypothalamus part of our brain. The hypothalamus instructs the body to maintain the temperature in the normal range (Avg. of 98.6°F/37°C). If an infection or illness is detected by the body, the hypothalamus adjusts the thermostat to raise the temperature to make the body unsuitable for the infection-causing agent to survive.
That is why the experts say having a fever is a healthy sign that your body is equipped to fight any infection-causing pathogens and other germs.
Reasons for Fever
Germs such as viruses or bacterias can cause common illness in the body. The body reacts to the invasion of the unwanted pathogen by a natural defence mechanism called fever to stop them from growing further.
Viral infections are the most common reason for a fever in children and are rarely a sign of severe illness. They usually go away on their own and can be treated by over the counter medicines prescribed by doctors.
As per studies conducted by the experts, about 95% of children below 5 years of age have a fever atleast thrice a year attributed to infection and the frequency of fevers reduces over time in children due to natural improvement in immunity.
Almost all children, irrespective of their age group, get a mild fever after their vaccination.
When the kids are teething, some might have a fever (not above 100°F/38.9°C) for a day or two accompanied by diarrhoea.
Too many layers of clothing can obstruct the heat from evaporating from the body, and it might cause a rise in body temperature. It is essential that children, especially infants, are wearing weather-appropriate clothing because their bodies cannot regulate their temperature as adults and cause overheating, resulting in a fever.
NOTE: As mentioned above, any grade of fever in infants below 6 months of age needs immediate medical attention.
How to measure a Fever?
A touch of the arm to your child's skin, especially on the forehead, hands or feet, is enough to decide that the child has a fever. However, measuring the temperature is a must once you confirm that the child seems feverish.
A traditional digital thermometer with readings mentioned here and above state that the child has a fever -
- Orally - 100°F (37.8°C),
- Rectally - 100.4°F (38°C) or
- Axillary position i.e under the arm -99°F (37.2°C).
Nowadays, infrared thermometers are used to reduce contact with the shared surface by different patients. They are easy to use and accurate, and hygienic.
Is the fever a symptom of Covid-19?
The symptoms of Covid-19 being similar to those of seasonal flu, it's obviously a cause of panic in parents, especially in younger children who cannot explain the problem to their caretakers.
The onset of summers brings a drastic change of season with a vertical rise in temperature, carrying along with a spell of children falling sick. In this dreaded Covid-19 situation, the first thought of every parent is - Is my child having a fever due to Covid-19? Is he coughing due to covid? And there starts the trail of thoughts that provoke severe anxiety.
Fortunately, this strain of the virus has minor effects on children, and they are usually asymptomatic to mildly symptomatic. Regular vaccinations and medications should be continued to prevent the children from getting severely ill during these times and developing a state of panic. The children can be carriers of the virus and hence, prudently, all efforts should be made to prevent them from getting infected.
Unfortunately, the symptoms of Covid-19 do not vary from regular seasonal viral infections, and hence, it is difficult to differentiate between the two types of causes. The only way to confirm is through the Covid-19 test.
Symptoms that need immediate attention
1.A Fever that is persistent, high and not dropping with medication like it does in general flu infections.
2. A Fever that lasts for more than two days and the child is feeling tired more than usual.
3. A fever along with symptoms like diarrhoea, vomiting, loss of appetite, pain while peeing.
4..If the child is not eating properly, is too ill to drink adequate fluids and is sleeping much more than regular sleep.
5. Shortness of breath or elevated/unrhythmic breathing and has developed rashes.
6. The child looks pale or visibly uneasy and affected.
Home Measures for a Fever (Not Covid-19)
1. When the child has a high fever, try a sponge bath with regular water to bring down the temperature.
2.Dress your child in lightweight clothing to help the body heat escape and maintain the room temperature at optimum as per the weather.
3. Keep them hydrated as they tend to lose fluids more than usual due to high body heat.
4. Make them Rest as much as possible to retain their energy levels.
Although fever can be accompanied by a variety of symptoms, it is not an illness in itself and rarely is a sign of something serious.
The two immediate signs to look for, in case of fever, that needs medical aid, are the temperature range and changes in the child's overall behaviour.
Fever or no fever, if your child is acting in a way that concerns you, always call a doctor than waste any time in self-diagnose.
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