One of the common reasons why people visit emergency rooms in America is because of their babies’ fever. Some parents almost lose their minds when their babies’ fever spike to over 100°F and they imagine that it is the end of the road for their angels. Fevers can really be scary and if you don’t know what to do when the baby has a very high fever then it can be unnerving and quite a traumatising experience. To help you understand what fever is, we talked to an expert from Bellaire Emergency room on baby fever and he was generous enough to provide us with 5 facts that parents need to know about their babies’ fever. Here are the 5 facts and everything you need to know about your baby’s fever;
1. Fever is not an illness
What is fever? If you were thinking that fever in itself is an ailment, then you are wrong because it is not. Fever is an indication of an illness in the body and it is a sign that the immune system is fighting off an infection in the body. When bacteria or viruses attack the body, while blood cells react by producing interleukin which is a hormone responsible for the increase in body temperature. The rise in body heat helps activate more cells and fight off the bacteria or the viruses that are likely to cause infections in the body. The heat produced by the body is also responsible for lowering the blood iron levels. Research shows that most germs and bacteria feed off iron contained in blood to survive. If the levels of iron are reduced in the body, then the bacteria or viruses will have nothing to feed on and eventually die.
2. Low and high fevers
Are high fevers more dangerous than low ones? Well, just because the temperature is high, it does not mean that the child is at a higher risk. The temperature of body when one is having a fever is affected by many factors. Age, the environment, the level of activity, the type of clothing worn and even foods consumed have a very big hand in deciding the final temperature of the body when one is having a fever. Anything above the normal temperature should be considered as a fever and treated with the same seriousness irrespective of the temperature difference. All you need to know is the normal temperature for every age group and you will be able to easily tell when your baby’s body temperature is above the normal one. You should also be careful about the time when you measure the temperature because we have already seen that the time of the day affects the final reading on the thermometer. Ideally, you should measure the temperature at around 6. A.m. in the morning or just before dusk at 6 p.m.
3. When you need to rush to the ER or call the doctor
So, when should your baby’s fever make you call the doctor? Well, if the fever has been persisting for more than two hours and the baby is starting to develop any or a combination of the following symptoms, then you need to get urgent medical help; a rash, swollen glands, severe earache or difficulties with breathing. Sometimes when the temperature is too high, babies might roll up their eyes and stiffen because of febrile seizures. This is something that freaks out a number of parents but in truth it should not because the febrile seizures are harmless. If they last for more than 5 minutes however without any change, then you need to call an ambulance and take your child to the nearest emergency room for treatment.
4. Use medication with care
Medicines such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen are over the counter drugs which can temporarily be used to reduce the fever and temporarily relieve the comfort. Although they are a good option when it comes to relieving the baby’s pain and discomfort, you should be very cautious not to overuse them or give them to children younger than 3 months if your doctor has not approved it. Judiciously use the medication and follow the doctor’s instructions to the letter. Repeated use of the medication has also been found to tamper with the immune system as the body gets used to the medication and yields in no significant change. It is better therefore to take your baby to the doctor every time they have fever rather than trying to give them something to suppress the temperature rise in the body.
5. Make sure your baby sees the doctor
Even if the fever goes down after some time, it is always wise to take your baby to the doctor for comprehensive diagnosis and check-up. As we already saw, fever is a sign of the body fighting with a pathogen in the body and sometimes the white blood cells lose the fight and your baby becomes at risk of becoming sick. You should therefore make sure your doctor sees the baby to ascertain the exact cause of the fever.