If there is one thing that will stump a parent every time, it can be a fever. Whether you are a first time parent, or a fifth time parent, fevers can be a scary and sometimes tricky thing. We wanted to discuss some basic guidelines here to help you navigate the high temperatures a little better.
1. What is a fever?
A fever is technically when the body temperature rises above 100.4 degrees F
. This happens when the body's thermostat gets set at a higher temperature than usual. This is thought to be one of the body's ways of fighting infection. In and of itself, a fever is not a cause for concern. Although it may be a cause for discomfort and irritability in your little ones.
2. What kinds of fevers are there?
There are typically two types of fevers talked about: low grade fevers and a high grade fevers. Low grade fevers are those that stay between 100.4 and around 102 degrees F. These can be caused by teething, vaccines, and sometimes viruses.
With these types of fevers, there is not a lot antibiotics can do for you. High grade fevers are those that range between around 102 to 104 degrees F. These can be the more uncomfortable fevers where you might also see things like the chills, body aches, and going between feeling hot to feeling cold.
These are usually caused by illness and might be a sign of a bacterial infection
, in which case, you may want to schedule an appointment with your pediatrician to see if there is something that my require treatment.
3. When do fevers usually hit?
There are a few different reasons for it but generally, fevers will spike at night.
It has to do with hormones and rhythms within the body that all make way for fevers to spike at night, even if your child has been fine all day. It is not uncommon for a fever to spike at night, disappear during the day, and come back the next night.
Don't be too concerned if you notice that is the case with your child. If you do get concerned, there is a genius product called the Fever Frida that allows you to keep an eye on your child's temperature while they sleep (or even play!). Check out some more information on that product here
4. What can you do?
There are two medications that are generally viewed as safe for most ages and scenarios in which you might find yourself in need of some relief. Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen
. These also go by brand names. These medications will usually bring down the fever by about 2 degrees and will lesson the discomfort your child may be feeling (*you should always contact your doctor prior to administering any medication to your chid to get dosage information and assure that you are using the correct medication for your child). You can also place a cool wash cloth on their forehead or put them in a tepid (room temp) bath.
You will want to dress them in loose fitting clothing that can breath easily. If their clothing is too warm, it could drive up their temperature even more. Some other areas of concern:
One of the biggest concerns with fevers is dehydration. Offer your child a drink of clear liquids every half hour or so. If you have a young baby, make sure they are having at least 4 wet diapers a day. If they are having less, you will want to contact your doctor for further guidance.
- Running a high temp can also cause fatigue. Allow your child to rest.
5. When to see a doctor?
If your child has a fever that is over 104 degrees F, if the fever is not brought down by fever medications, if your child is younger than 3 months old with a fever or if the fever lasts more than 5 days, these are all instances that you will want to call the doctor or nurse hotline and get it checked out. These scenarios are not common and could indicate a serious problem that you will want addressed as soon as possible.
6. What kind of thermometer should you use?
There are lots of different thermometers out there. Just make sure that when you are taking your child's temp, take it with the same thermometer every time and in the same spot. Don't switch from your temporal artery thermometer for one reading to your under the tongue thermometer the next.
They each run a little different, but using the same one in the same location will help you see patterns. Again, you can use the Fever Frida to keep a watch on your child's temperature in real time, where the app will create graphs and charts for you to keep a close eye on it.
7. Complications of fevers.
There are not many complications from fevers themselves. They are natural and normal and serve a purpose in fighting infection. However, an extremely high fever can cause seizures. These seizures can range from uncontrollable shaking to appearing as if your child has passed out.
If you happen to notice any of these things, you do not need to call 911 (unless it lasts more than 5 minutes), but you will want to call your pediatrician or nurse line and inform them of the incident.
Well, that about covers the basics on fevers. Just remember, they are a natural and normal part of illness and should not cause too much concern, just try to keep your child comfortable and use your best judgement.