Fevers can be worrisome for parents of infants and toddlers especially when they are first-time parents. The thing about fever is that you can never tell if it is dangerous or not and this is precisely what makes fevers scary for many parents.
Did you know?Lynn Smitherman, M.D., Assistant Professor of Paediatrics has said, “Fever is not an illness but a sign that the immune system is fighting off an infection.”
Considering this, if a kid has a fever, it is an indication of a good immune system. When viruses or bacteria attack the body, white blood cells produce interleukin to fight them off. The production of interleukin hormone results in a rise in body temperature. The increased body temperature or heat helps in killing the germs attacking the kid’s body.
Causes of Fever
Before we dwell upon the causes, it is essential to understand and remember that fever by itself is not an illness. It is usually a sign or a symptom of another problem. There can be many causes of fever in babies.
Some of the most common causes can be:
Infections: The most common cause of fevers is infections. Fever is the body’s natural defence mechanism against infections.
Vaccinations: A baby might get a fever within 12 hours of getting an injection. This fever is an indication that the vaccine is working. The body produces new antibodies after immunisation. The production of new antibodies is what causes fever post vaccination.
Overdressing: The newborns take a little while to adjust to the temperature in the outside world. Hence it is recommended to dress them in such a way that it keeps them warm. For this, at times, mothers end up overdressing the baby which results in a rise in body temperature.
Teething: When a baby starts teething, the body temperature rises slightly. It stays around 100°F during the teething period.
When to be concerned?
Before ringing the panic bell, it is essential to understand what is considered a fever. A general notion is that anything above 98.6°F is a fever, but it is not. Body temperature fluctuates throughout the day, and in babies, this fluctuation can have larger variations compared to adults. In healthy babies, a high temperature is not considered fever until it crosses 100.3°F.
For babies under 12 months, you need to keep the following numbers in mind:
Under 3 months: A temperature over 100.3°F in babies under three months need immediate attention. However, if this temperature is because of a vaccine, you don’t need to worry.
3 to 12 months: A temperature over 102.2°F in babies from three to twelve months requires immediate evaluation. The high temperature or the fever might not be considered as an illness, but it can be an indication of an underlying infection or disease.
A timely check and intervention of a paediatric can help in getting rid of the illness or infection at the first stage. You need not to worry even with high temperature if your baby is eating well, is active and is not looking pale.
How to care for your baby during a fever?
As we have mentioned above – not all fevers are dangerous or need treatment. If the child feels cranky and uncomfortable due to the fever then you might follow the below remedies:
Medicines: Infants under 2 months old should not be given any medication without their paediatrician’s recommendation. Infants over 2 months can be administered with a prescribed medicine as per the dosage recommended by the paediatric. For kids below 10 years, the dosage has to be as per the paediatrician’s recommendation. Medication during high temperature only helps in keeping control over the body temperature.
Home remedies: Make sure that the baby is dressed in light clothing during high temperature. Don’t cover the kid with sheets or blankets. This will only make the temperature rise further. Bathe the baby with lukewarm water or give sponge bath – these are temporary remedies to lower the body temperature.
It is vital to understand that medication or home remedies cannot help in fighting the underlying cause of the fever. Hence, it is always recommended to see a doctor if the temperature lasts more than 48 hours.