Healthful Hints from Dr. K …
*Note: Though we are not adding to the exercise tips this month, it is important to maintain your current exercise program. Keep walking daily and continue with your strength training exercises.*
Healthful Hints: WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR CHILD HAS A FEVER
There are many reasons why a child runs a fever. The body normally runs a temperature of 98.6°. Mild elevations can occur normally after exercise, with excessive clothing, from a hot bath or hot weather. An infant’s temperature tends to rise after bottle or breastfeeding for a half hour or more. Most childhood fevers, in the range of 99–104°F (37.8°–40°C), are not harmful and are often due to a virus. Most fevers that stay under 100°F (38.3°C) are due to hot weather or overdressing.
Fevers are a symptom, not a disease. Sometimes a fever alerts us to a serious condition and is a cause for concern, while at other times it is not. A fever is the body’s normal response to an infection. It increases the body’s immune system functions by increasing the release and activity of white blood cells, interferon, and other substances. Therefore, it is important not to prevent the body from this important infection fighting process. The naturopathic perspective tends to regard fevers below 102°F (39°C) as useful to the body to help us to eliminate toxins through sweating and to fight disease-producing organisms.
In general, the height of the fever does not relate to the seriousness of the illness; it is the behavior of the child that matters. A fever usually will not cause any symptoms until it reaches 101.5°–103°F (38.9–39.4°C). Fever causes no harm to a child until it reaches 106.7°–107.6°F (41.7 to 42.2°C). Only 4% of children with high fevers will develop febrile convulsions, which are generally considered harmless.
Children over 2 months of age can be given acetaminophen every 4 to 6 hours, but only if the child is uncomfortable and the fever is over 102°F (39°C). This will reduce the fever 1–2°F (0.5– 1°C) within 2 hours, but only if the fever was low-grade to begin with. Do not give children (up to the age of 18) aspirin if they have chickenpox, sore throat, cold, or flu symptoms because it is linked to Reye’s syndrome, a debilitating neurologic disorder.
TO TAKE YOUR CHILD’S TEMPERATURE
- Rectal: Lubricate the bulb of the rectal thermometer. Hold the baby on your lap or have the child lay on the bed. It is best to keep the baby in a position that allows for minimal movement. Insert the bulb one inch into the rectum. Hold in place for 3 to 5 minutes. Normal is 99.6°F (37.8°C), give or take 0.5°F.
- Oral: Some children can manage an oral thermometer by age 4 to 5. If in doubt, use an
axillary or rectal temperature. Place the bulb of the thermometer under the tongue and
hold for 2 to 3 minutes. Be sure to tell the child not to bite the thermometer. Normal is
98.6°F (37°C), give or take 0.5°F.
- Axillary Place the bulb under the child’s arm and hold the arm down for a minimum of 5
minutes. Normal is 97.6°F (36.5°C), give or take 0.5°F.
CALL YOUR PHYSICIAN
- Child is under 2 months and has a fever
- Fever over 104°F (40.1°C )(oral)
- Child cries inconsolably
- Child cries if touched/moved
- Child’s neck is stiff
- Child difficult to wake
- Purple spots present on skin
- Child has difficulty breathing
- Child drools or can’t swallow
- Convulsions occur
- Child is very lethargic
- Parent is very concerned
Call your physician within 24 hours if:
- Fever lasts longer than 24 hours
- Fever between 101.5–104° (38.9–40.1°C)
- Burning pain when child urinates
- Child is less than 24 months or 2 years old
Call your physician if:
- Fever lasts longer than 72 hours
- Child has a history of febrile seizures
- Fever left for more than 24 hours and has now returned.
TO KEEP YOUR CHILD COMFORTABLE:
- Encourage, but don’t force fluids. Pedialyte is a good commercial product.
- Increase frequency of breast or bottle feeding.
- Avoid excessive clothing.
- Provide fresh air.
- Apply lukewarm wet compresses to forehead, nape of the neck, abdomen, back or feet.
- Sponge with tepid water or give your child a tepid bath.
- Keep child calm and resting as much as possible—no vigorous playing.
- Provide simple nourishing foods such as soup, broth or diluted juice.