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How to Treat a Feverish Child

Although fever is a normal body response to infection, a feverish child in the household may trigger fear and panic among the household members. Most mothers worry when their child is stricken with high fever that convulsions may follow or the increased temperature will "cook" their child's brains and other internal organs.

In order to treat fever effectively, it is important for mothers to fully understand the mechanism behind it. A normal human being has an internal thermo regulating system. This system is responsible for the body's ability to adapt to external temperature changes. In the presence of infection, there are certain changes in the body that trigger the release of chemicals which are responsible for the increase in body temperature. When the body temperature increases too much, the internal thermostat compensates. This compensation is manifested in chills, flushed skin and other symptoms of fever.

You should generally allow a low grade fever to run its own course; this is the body's natural way of responding to infection. However here are some ways on how relieve and treat the symptoms that a feverish child may experience:

Monitor the Temperature

It is important to be aware of what a normal temperature value is; this will help mothers to determine if their child has fever or not. You have to keep in mind that body temperature varies throughout the day. A normal oral temperature runs at 98.6°F. Normal axillary or armpit temperature is one degree lower than the normal oral temperature while the average rectal temperature is one degree higher. Rectal temperature is the most accurate way of taking a child's temperature.

When taking your child's temperature, make sure to thoroughly shake the mercury (silver line) down below the numbers in the thermometer.

Forehead thermometers are now easier to use and can be conveniently bought in drugstores. The forehead strip will simply change its color depending on the child's temperature. Check the instruction sheet to understand the color code for above normal temperature.

Fluid Therapy

Offering small sips of fluids every 15 minutes is recommended for treating a feverish child. You should keep your child hydrated since they may be losing excess fluids through perspiration. Water, fruit juices, gelatin or soups will do.

Dress Your Child Appropriately

If your child is sweating a lot, take some the clothes off. This is done to prevent the fever from rising again. It is also important to expose your child's skin to air as excessive heat is evaporated through the skin. Your child's room should be comfortably cool.

However, if the child is complaining of chills, add more clothes. Communication with your child is important for you to know which treatment measures are appropriate.

Sponge Baths

Although some doctors do not consider sponge baths necessary, you can do this if your child's fever is high. Use tepid water and avoid using alcohol as your child may inhale the fumes and it will chill the skin too quickly. Sponge baths should not be longer than 15 minutes.

Administering Medications

Avoid giving aspirin. The use of aspiring in children with fever has been correlated with Reye's syndrome. Acetaminophen is now the preferred treatment for children with fevers. Ask your local pharmacist or read the label first to check the appropriate dose for your child based on weight.

You don't have to panic the next time your child has fever. By simply following the measures discussed above, your child will be up and running in no time. If the fever persists for more than a day, call your pediatrician.

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