The fever is an elevation of body temperature, usually above 38 ° C.
When the temperature is between 37ºC and 38ºC we speak of a low-grade fever. It is a symptom, not a disease, and like all symptoms it can be due to minor or serious illnesses. Fever is also one of the ways in which our body protects itself against infection. By producing more heat, our body’s defenses can better fight germs.
Why is it produced?
The main thing is to know if the cause is serious or not. Fortunately, most of the time the fever in children is due to trivial infections, generally of viral origin, that do not require the administration of antibiotics and that heal on their own in a few days. Other times the cause may be otitis or angina that can be cured with antibiotics. Finally, exceptionally it can be a more severe infection (pneumonia, meningitis ).
There are other factors that can also cause fever: vaccines, excess clothing, food, intense exercise, etc. To differentiate a severe infection from a mild one, it is better to observe the symptoms and the general condition of the child than the thermometer, since a high fever is not indicative of serious illness.
The fact that the temperature is kept within limits that rarely exceed 41ºC or 42ºC is due to the existence of a center in the brain (thermoregulatory center) that, after receiving information on body temperature, regulates or maintains the balance of the mechanisms of heat production and loss. The objective is to keep the temperature of the human body within certain limits.
In order to increase the temperature, there is mainly a contraction of the muscles and, when more heat is required, more intense contractions called chills are produced. To lower the temperature, sweating is the main mechanism.
Symptoms of fever
Fever is just one of the symptoms of the infection. It is necessary to know if the child may also have earache, sore throat, mucus, cough, pimples or spots on the skin, vomiting or diarrhea.
Children with a high fever are often irritable or tired, wheezing, palpitating, and have a flushed face. Some have a headache and even hallucinations. Symptoms generally improve when the temperature drops.
Febrile seizures are involuntary muscle contractions of the body and / or extremities caused by the same fever. Although very scary, children recover quickly and without problems from these episodes.
The child with a fever should not be tucked in. You will neither catch a cold nor catch any pneumonia, and your body temperature will drop better.
If the child has a fever in the morning, in the afternoon his temperature will not rise any more and he will get worse.
There is no specific medicine for each temperature. Each child can react better to one or the other. Aspirin can be given on an empty stomach, if the child needs it.
Febrile seizures only mean that the child has had a dramatic reaction to the fever, not that he or she is epileptic.
High fever does not cause brain damage. If it were, we’d all have to be mentally retarded.
How is it diagnosed?
Temperature can be measured using a thermometer located in the mouth (under the tongue), armpit, rectum, or ear (external auditory canal). The determination of the temperature by palpation with the hand is not considered reliable. Although rectal temperature better reflects body temperature, it is not recommended in young children because of the danger of breaking the thermometer and causing injury. The measurement of the temperature in the ear with a tympanic thermometer is very fast (one second) but, sometimes it is not very exact if the hospital thermometers are not used.
The thermometer will be kept in the armpit or in the groin for 3 or 5 minutes, considering normal between 36ºC and 37ºC. If it has been taken in the rectum, it may be 0.5ºC higher.
Treatment for fever
The most rational behavior is to obtain a decrease in temperature ordered by the thermoregulatory center itself. Antipyretics have a direct action on this center.
We basically have three medications for treating fever in children: Aspirin, paracetamol and ibuprofen . All three produce drops in temperature and have numerous marketed presentations, both orally and rectally (paracetamol). The alternative administration of two different antipyretics is not necessary. In stubborn cases, magnesium metamizole (Nolotil (®) can also be used .
Care that a child with a fever should have
- A child with a fever does not have to be in bed if he is well.
- Contact with air is not dangerous. There is no problem in going to the pediatrician or the emergency service.
- Maintain the ambient temperature at 20ºC. Do not overcoat the child, but quite the opposite. Eliminate blankets and duvets.
- Offer water or other fluids often and without forcing.
- If the child sleeps, do not wake him up to take his temperature.
- Don’t insist on lowering your body temperature at all costs. With high fevers the logical thing is that it does not go down completely. Also, do not insist on placing your child in a warm bathtub if he is calm.
- Do not use rubbing alcohol or cologne, as they can be dangerous. Alcohol can be absorbed through the child’s thin skin. It is better to moisten it with warm water using a sponge.
- If the child is unwell despite the above measures, consult the pediatrician.
When should we go to the pediatrician?
- If the fever is high or yields badly with antipyretics or physical measures.
- If the fever lasts more than 3 days.
- Yes, despite not having a high fever, the child is drowsy, vomiting, with a headache or abdominal pain.
When should we go to an emergency service?
- If the child is less than 3 months old.
- If the fever is higher than 40ºC.
- If there are marked changes in behavior, with hallucinations, irritability, apathy, drowsiness or inconsolable crying. Has difficulty waking up and relating to parents
- Sick appearance higher than expected, especially after lowering the temperature.
- Stiff neck, rebellious headache , or seizure. Bulging of the fontanel in an infant.
- Purple spots (bruises) on the skin. Also if it is pale or has a bluish color.
- You have trouble breathing (choking, rapid or noisy breathing).
- Intense belly pain.
- If you are dehydrated (have lost water). The child urinates less, wet diapers less, has a dry mouth, no tears, or has lost weight.
Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.