Fever In Children: Basics

Fever In Children | How To Recognize Fever In Your Child & When To Treat It Yourself Or Seek Professional Help

Fever in children: Causes, measuring, normal temperatures, home remedies and when to seek medical help for your child

Fever in children: Fever is an abnormal elevation of body temperature that is a physiological response of the body and is controlled by the brain.

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Fever in children especially those below 3 years is the commonest reason a child is brought to a clinic or hospital.

To understand what needs to be done it is important to know

  1. What is normal temperature
  2. How to take temperature
  3. What are the likely causes of fever
  4. When should a parent be alarmed

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What is the normal temperature in children?

The mean normal temperature is usually 37ºC (98.6ºF) but more recently 37.2ºC (98.9ºF) in the morning and 37.7ºC (99.9ºF) is considered normal. Normal body temperature depends on the age, time of the day, the level of activity among other factors.

Infants and young children generally have higher temperatures than older children and adults. This is because of larger r surface-area-to-body-weight ratio and the higher metabolic rate.

In the newborn period (age 0 to 28 days), the mean normal temperature (measured rectally) is 37.5°C, with an upper limit of normal of 38ºC (100.4ºF)

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Fever In Children

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How to measure temperature?

The most common sites are rectal, armpit, mouth and more recently ears(infrared thermometry).

Rectal temperature: Is usually taken in infants and children and is the reference standard for measuring core body temperature. However, it is inconvenient and not done unless there is a real clinical need.

Oral (mouth) temperature: Can be taken in older children and adults. Oral temperature is typically 0.6ºC (1.0ºF) lower than rectal temperature because of mouth breathing and also may be affected by drinking hot or cold liquids

Armpit temperature: Axillary temperature is consistently lower than rectal temperature.

Infrared tympanic membrane (TM) thermometers: Measure the amount of heat produced by the eardrum and are close to core temperature but are considerably less accurate.

Forehead thermometers: Measure the amount of heat produced by the temporal arteries and are affected by sweating or vascular change and are not reliable.

What is considered as fever?

  • In the otherwise healthy neonate to 3 months – It is considered when rectal temperature measures ≥38.0ºC (100.4ºF).
  • In children 3 to 36 months, It is considered when rectal temperatures ranging from ≥38.0 to 39.0ºC (100.4 to 102.2ºF)
  • In older children and adults, It is defined by oral temperatures ranging from ≥37.8 to 39.4ºC (100.0 to 103.0ºF)

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Causes of fever in children

Most fevers are caused by infections or other illnesses. The high body temperature makes it more difficult for the bacteria and viruses that cause infections to survive.
Common conditions that can cause fevers include:

  • Upper respiratory tract infections (RTIs)
  • Viral Infections like roseola – a virus that causes a temperature and a rash
  • Tonsillitis or ear infections
  • Kidney or urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Common childhood illnesses, such as chickenpox
  • A child’s temperature can also be raised after vaccinations,
  • Infants can overheat because of too much bedding or clothing.
  • Sun or Heat stroke
Fever In Children | https://www.singhaniaclinic.com/pediatrician/fever-in-children/ How To Recognize Fever In Your Child & When To Treat It Yourself Or Seek Professional Help

Fever In Children

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When to seek help

  • Is under three months old and has a temperature of 38C (101F) or above
  • Is between three and six months old and has a temperature of 39C (102F) or above
  • Child has other signs of being unwell, such as
    • Persistent vomiting
    • Refusal to feed
    • Floppiness
    • Drowsiness
    • Dehydrated
    • Excessive crying
    • Fits

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How to treat fever at home

  • Keep the child well hydrated by giving plenty of cool water to drink. Even if your child isn’t thirsty, try to get them to drink little and often to keep their fluid levels up.
  • Babies should be given plenty of liquids, such as breast milk or formula.
  • The room temperature should not be too warm and the child should be covered with a lightweight sheet.

Antipyretics

Children’s paracetamol or ibuprofen work as antipyretics, which help to reduce fever, as well as being painkillers. Both should not be given at the same time, but if one doesn’t work, try the other later.

The correct dose is essential and unnecessarily giving medicine is not recommended.

Antipyretics aren’t always necessary. If the child is not distressed by the fever or underlying illness, there’s no need to use antipyretics to reduce a fever. Antipyretics do not help heat stroke

Key features:

  • Be sure to measure temperature correctly
  • Know the normal body temperatures
  • Fever is a response and not a disease
  • Fever can be helpful to fight infection
  • Keep child well hydrated
  • Be very careful of using antipyretics
Fever In Children | https://www.singhaniaclinic.com/pediatrician/fever-in-children/ How To Recognize Fever In Your Child & When To Treat It Yourself Or Seek Professional Help

Fever In Children

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Fever In Children: Basics was last modified: April 3rd, 2017 by Dr. Rajeshree Singhania