Dec
22
2008

38. Fever.. what is it?

After experiencing so many ‘feverish’ episodes with Ethan, I decided to go to google for some help to understand more about fever. Here is what I think worth sharing..

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 off infections. And not all fevers need to be treated. High fever, however, can make a child uncomfortable and aggravate problems such as dehydration.

What Is Fever?
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 about 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. So, why does the hypothalamus tell the body to change to a new temperature? Researchers believe turning up the heat is the body’s way of fighting the germs that cause infections and making the body a less comfortable place for them.
What Causes Fever?
It’s important to remember that fever by itself is not an illness — it’s usually a symptom of an underlying problem. Fever has several 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 overbundled or in a hot environment because they don’t regulate their body temperature as well as older children. 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 children 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° Fahrenheit (37.8° Celsius).
When Can a Fever Be a Sign of Something Serious?
Kids whose temperatures are lower than 102° Fahrenheit (38.9° Celsius) often don’t require medication unless they’re uncomfortable. There’s one important exception to this rule: If you have an infant 3 months or younger with a rectal temperature of 100.4° Fahrenheit (38° Celsius) or higher, call your doctor or go to the emergency department immediately. Even a slight fever can be a sign of a potentially serious infection in very young infants.
If your child is between 3 months and 3 years old and has a fever of 102.2° Fahrenheit (39° Celsius) or higher, call the doctor to see if he or she needs to see your child. For older kids, take behavior and activity level into account. Watching how your child behaves will give you a pretty good idea whether a minor illness is the cause or if your child should be seen by a doctor.
The illness is probably not serious if your child:
*is still interested in playing
*is eating and drinking well
*is alert and smiling at you
*has a normal skin color
*looks well when his or her temperature comes down
And don’t worry too much about a child with a fever who doesn’t want to eat. This is very common with infections that cause fever. For kids who still drink and urinate normally, not eating as much as usual is OK

How Do I Know if My Child Has a Fever?
Use a reliable thermometer to tell if your child has a fever when his or her temperature is at or above one of these levels:
100.4° Fahrenheit (38° Celsius) measured rectally (in the bottom)
99.5° Fahrenheit (37.5° Celsius) measured orally (in the mouth)
99° Fahrenheit (37.2° Celsius) 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° Fahrenheit / 38.9°–40° Celsius range), but this doesn’t usually indicate a serious problem. And serious infections may cause no fever or even an abnormally low body temperature, especially in infants.
Because fevers may rise and fall, a child with fever might experience chills as the body tries to generate additional heat as its temperature begins to rise. The child may sweat as the body releases extra heat when the temperature starts to drop.


I got all this and more at http://kidshealth.org/parent/general/body/fever.html

About the Author: Merryn Tan

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MeHome is where MY heart is.
I am a mother to two boys; Ethan and Ayden and a wife to Darling William. I'm a stay at home mum who blogs to break the monotony of life and to avoid feeling jaded. Would love to get to know all the Super Mommies and Daddies and Babies or Singles out there with the hope that we can learn more from each other. Most of all, I am a happy person, and I hope YOU are too.

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