How to Deal with Fever in Babies
A fever is not an illness, but an indication that the body’s immune system is fighting off an illness, and mostly only last a few days. Although it can be very worrisome when your baby is running a fever, it is rarely causes any harm. However, if a fever runs longer, or is paired with other symptoms, it may signify your baby is suffering from an underlying chronic or long-term sickness.
Parents should be informed and know what the common causes of fever are, how to accurately measure a baby’s temperature and steps that should be taken when your baby has a fever.
In most cases, a fever indicates your baby has caught a cold or other viral infection. These do not last long and usually don’t need to be treated. Some infections, including pneumonia, urinary tract, ear, or blood infections are caused by bacteria, and need treatment with antibiotics. If your baby also has a very sore, it could be streptococcus, which if is not treated can lead to rheumatic fever or heart damage.
Less common causes of a fever include an allergic reaction to drugs or a vaccination, or becoming overheated from being overdressed or spending too much time outdoors.
Signs and Symptoms
Aside from a burning forehead, other symptoms associated with fever in babies may include poor eating and sleeping, crankiness, less activity and convulsions or seizures.
When your baby gets hot and flushed and you suspect they have a fever, make sure to measure his or her temperature for confirmation. A baby’s body temperature fluctuates between 97 degrees Fahrenheit up to 100.3 degrees Fahrenheit, and is only considered to have a fever at 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
When measuring your baby’s temperature, opt for a digital thermometer, and avoid mercury thermometers as they easily slip and break, posing a health risk. You can take a baby’s temperature in different ways, such as orally, via the ear, under arms or temples, however, for the most accurate reading you should measure via the rectum.
To do this, first make sure the thermometer is clean, then lay your baby on the belly, or on the back with legs bent upward and toward the chest. Apply a small amount of petroleum jelly to the tip or bulb before gently inserting it around 1 inch into the rectal opening. The reading should take a couple of minutes. If you have any difficulties, get a GP or nurse to show you how to take your child’s temperature.
Treatment and Care
Although a fever in babies under 6 months old is fairly unusual, it can be a serious warning sign something may be wrong. If your baby is under 3 months old, it is considered an emergency and you should take your baby to see a doctor immediately. Babies between 3 and 6 months old should also be seen by a doctor as soon as possible.
For babies 6 months or above, monitor your baby’s temperature and to see if it goes away on its own within a few days before going to see a doctor. In the meantime, try bathing him or her in lukewarm water, giving enough fluids to avoid dehydration, and taking off outer layers of clothing. Consult your doctor before giving your baby paracetemol or ibuprofen. Do not give aspirin as it is linked to a risk of developing Reye’s syndrome. If you baby is also lethargic, unresponsive, has problems eating or breathing, has a rash, or a seizure, seek immediate medical care.
- Agnes Yoon