Fevers in Kids

About 2 weeks ago I wrote a post on how to treat and care for kids with ear aches.  I’d like to continue with a mini-series on kids minor illnesses and how to manage them at home.  I think the beginning of October is a good time to start thinking of what we might encounter in winter and to start getting our medicine chest stocked and ready.  Half the time being prepared and knowledgeable is half the battle.  Hopefully you will find some information here that will bless you and your children!

Fevers are rarely dangerous and yet we are lead to believe by our pediatricians that the child could be gravely ill and they need to be seen in the office.  Fevers usually go away on their own in about 72 hours or less.  If they go on for longer than that, then I would agree that the child ought to be evaluated by the pediatrician.  Also in most children fevers don’t rise any higher than 105.  If they do that would be another case to have them evaluated.  I will have a list below of the “Need to see a Dr” symptoms that might be helpful.

Fevers are a good sign!  If a child spikes a fever it means the body has recognized there is some foreign infection that it is going to fight.  Bacteria, yeast, viruses, fungus and the like, desire warm temperatures (98ish), but not hot environments for optimal growth.  When a child gets a fever it is the natural mechanism to burn off the bad infections.  I never would recommend trying to rid the child of a fever because it could lengthen the time of illness.  I do, however, think fevers should be managed, monitored and lowered at times.

There are many ways to manage a fever and provide comfort for the child.  Below are a number of things to try, but by no means is a complete list.

Rest:

Rest?  Do kids EVER do that?  Even decreased activity will help.  Try doing some sedentary activities, reading books, coloring at the table, paper dolls, and puzzles.  Even if they still want to run around and they are feeling fine… let them!  Just maybe encourage an afternoon nap.  Rest is always my first recommendation for any type of illness for kids or adults!

Fluids:

This is always recommendation #2!  The body can’t try to heal if it is partially dehydrated!  Leave the alcohol, sugar and caffeine… These all help to dehydrate the body.  Try some natural fruit juice, or juice some yourself, ice pops, ice-cream, coconut water or other rehydrating beverages.  Water is always best, but sometimes it starts to get old or not a favorite of kids.  Try adding some lemon, or I sometimes use the [amazon_link id=”B0009RF8LA” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Emergen-C[/amazon_link] and give only a ¼ of a packet diluted well with water.  My kids like tea as well which for them is just something warm in a little cup!  I will do warmed ginger/garlic water or warmed fruit juice or a little herbal tea as well.  Dehydration is always a concern with high fevers and kids often don’t want to drink when they don’t feel good so try to make it interesting for them!

Cool bandana:

My kids like bandanas anyway, but I will often wet one and put it on their wet hair to help cool them down.  I usually only do this when I’m uncomfortable with how high the fever is or how they are tolerating it.

Bath:

This is a great way to cool them down.  Doesn’t have to be a cool bath.  Just getting their hair wet and letting it evaporate is enough!  It is also a great thing for them to do.  They are somewhat stationary and “resting” but have something to do and something to cool them down.  It also helps them take their mind off not feeling well.

Dress lightly:

I will usually let my kids run around in a t-shirt and underwear or light PJs when they are sick.  They are comfortable and don’t get too hot. Just be cautious and don’t let them shiver because that will raise the temperature.  Just keep them comfortable.  My kids often like a blanket as well, so I’ll put the minimal amount of clothing on them and let them have a light weight blanket or sheet.  We are both happy!

Need to see a Dr if:

  • Signs of dehydration: no tears, decreased urination/wet diapers (should have minimum 3 wet diapers in a 24 hour period of time for toddlers), dizziness when standing, parched or dry mouth, cracked dry lips
  • Fever lasting more than 72 hours
  • Fever over 105
  • Signs that a child isn’t tolerating the fever very well – I don’t care how high the fever is if the child is exhibiting any of the following symptoms:
    • Lethargic
    • Limp (like a rag doll)
    • Slow to respond
    • Difficult to arouse
    • Confused
    • Excessively irritable (you know what your child’s norm is)
    • Combative
    • Difficulty breathing (children often have a slight increased rate if breathing with fevers)
    • Refusing to eat or drink

Hopefully some of this information is helpful, although I hope your children stay healthy all season!  Please let me know if there is another children’s health topic that you are interested in.  I’d love to share what I’ve learned!

Medical Disclaimer: This information is meant to inform and not diagnose or treat illness or disease.  Before trying any of the ideas posted please research for yourself in order to make an educated decision.  Also, consult your doctor if tying to treat medical conditions.

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