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One of the main reasons for pediatric consultation, both in hospital services and in primary care services, is fever in the child. Fever is the elevation of the normal temperature of the body: more than 38º C if it is measured in the rectum or more than 37.5º C if it is measured in the armpit. From 37.5ºC to 38ºC axillary is considered low-grade fever.
The most common cause of fever in infants and children is a viral infection. According to the recommendations of the SEUP (Spanish Society of Pediatric Emergencies) this is what parents should know about fever in pediatric age.
It is advisable to measure the temperature with the thermometer. It is true that fathers and mothers know when the child has a fever due to their attitude, their 'chapetas', when putting their hand on their forehead or on their back ... but the pediatrician will ask the degree of fever ... and it cannot be something approximate.
- It is only necessary to lower the fever if the child is upset. This generally occurs from 38-38.5ºC. Also, if the child has a history of febrile seizures, it is advisable not to let the temperature rise too much, although the first sign that the child has a fever may be the seizure. Whether or not a seizure occurs is not related to the degree of high fever, but more to individual susceptibility, and sometimes to sudden changes in temperature.
- The child should not be sheltered, if he is cold, it is advisable to cover him so that he feels better, but without overcoating him. The temperature of the house should be warm.
It is advisable to offer him plenty of fluids, without forcing him, since the increase in body temperature increases the insensitive losses of body fluid.
- Use the doses of antipyretics recommended by your pediatrician respecting the intervals between them. Whenever possible, administer them by mouth, not rectally, since absorption is more accurate.
- According to the latest pediatric recommendations medications to treat fever should not be alternated. It is advisable to use only one in the appropriate doses.
- Baths with lukewarm water (physical measures) reduce fever a little. You can use them to help antipyretics, but always at a temperature 2 degrees lower than the child's fever. Do not use alcohol or cold water compresses.
- If the child is less than 3 months old. The baby will generally be asked for a blood and urine test, since they are at higher risk of serious infection.
- If your child is sleepy, down or, on the contrary, very irritable.
- If you have had a seizure for the first time.
- If you complain of a severe headache and vomit several times.
- If the child is breathing with difficulty, his ribs are noticeable, he breathes quickly or makes unusual noises when breathing.
- When red spots appear on the skin that do not disappear when pressed (this is petechiae, which can be a sign of a serious infection).
- Fever is not bad in itself, is a sign that there is some pathology, generally infectious. It is a way that our body has to fight infection.
- Fever does not damage the brain until it reaches 42ºC or more.
- Antipyretics do not cure the infection, they only help the child feel better. Therefore the infectious process will continue its course, despite the antipyretics
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