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Posts Tagged ‘when to call the doctor’

With your kids back in school and new exposure to germs and other fun little sniffles from the other children – how do you recognize when your child doesn’t just have the sniffles, but actually has a fever that might lead to illness and you should possibly see a doctor?  Well, I have been ‘down for the count’ for 3 whole days with a fever and sore throat which I caught from my boyfriend’s 3-year-old cousin who recently went back to school. I won’t lie though, I did call my mom for advice on my sickness.

As a parent, you’ve probably experienced waking in the middle of the night to find your child rosy checked, hot, and sweaty. You check your little one’s forehead, and it feels warm. You might immediately suspect a fever, but are unsure of what to do next. Should you get out the thermometer? Call the doctor?

According to Kids Health Organization, “In healthy kids, fevers usually don’t indicate anything serious. Although it can be frightening when your child’s temperature rises, fever itself causes no harm and can actually be a good thing — it’s often the body’s way of fighting infections. And not all fevers need to be treated. High fever, however, can make a child uncomfortable and worsen problems such as dehydration.”

Here are some facts about fevers, how to measure them and when to call the doc. 

Fever Facts
Fever occurs when the body’s internal “thermostat” raises the body temperature above its normal level. This thermostat is found in the part of the brain called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus knows what temperature your body should be (usually around 98.6° Fahrenheit or 37° Celsius) and will send messages to your body to keep it that way.

Sometimes, though, the hypothalamus will “reset” the body to a higher temperature in response to an infection, illness, or some other cause.

Causes of Fever
It’s important to remember that fever by itself is not an illness — it’s usually a symptom of an underlying problem. According to Kids Health Organization, fever has a few potential causes:

Infection: Most fevers are caused by infection or other illness. Fever helps the body fight infections by stimulating natural defense mechanisms.

Overdressing: Infants, especially newborns, may get fevers if they’re over bundled or in a hot environment because they don’t regulate their body temperature as well as older kids. However, because fevers in newborns can indicate a serious infection, even infants who are overdressed must be evaluated by a doctor if they have a fever.

Immunizations:
Babies and kids sometimes get a low-grade fever after getting vaccinated.

Although teething may cause a slight rise in body temperature, it’s probably not the cause if a child’s temperature is higher than 100° F (37.8° C).

How to Tell Your Kid Has a Fever.
A gentle kiss on the forehead or a hand placed lightly on the skin is often enough to give you a hint that your child has a fever. However, this method of taking a temperature (called tactile temperature) is dependent on the person doing the feeling and doesn’t give an accurate measure of temperature.

Use a reliable thermometer to confirm a fever (which is when a child’s temperature is at or above one of these levels): 

  • 100.4° F (38° C) measured rectally (in the bottom)
  • 99.5° F (37.5° C) measured orally (in the mouth)
  • 99° F (37.2° C) measured in an axillary position (under the arm)

But how high a fever is doesn’t tell you much about how sick your child is. A simple cold or other viral infection can sometimes cause a rather high fever (in the 102°-104° F / 38.9°-40° C range), but this doesn’t usually indicate a serious problem. And serious infections might cause no fever or even an abnormally low body temperature, especially in infants.

Other signs are:

  • Hot and flushed all over
  • Irritability or crying
  • Listless or lethargic
  • Restless during the night
  • Loss of appetite
  • Uncontrollable shivering
  • Sudden vomiting
  • Whining, complaining or clinginess

When a Fever Is Something Serious
In the past, doctors advised treating a fever on the basis of temperature alone. But now they recommend considering both the temperature and a child’s overall condition.

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