Help! The child has a fever! How to act?

Help! The child has a fever! How to act?
Help! The child has a fever! How to act?

Dr. Kristin Genkova graduated from Sofia Medical University in 2019. He specialized in Pediatrics at the Pediatrics Clinic at UMBAL Aleksandrovska in Sofia. Since May 2021, he has been part of the team of DKC Vita Base 2. Member of the Bulgarian Medical Union. He has participated in national congresses and seminars on pediatrics.

photo: Vita

Dr. Genkova, what are the causes of an increase in body temperature?

The increase in body temperature is a natural reaction by which the body aims to destroy the causative agents of infections that have entered it, such as viruses, bacteria, parasites, etc. In practice, it is a favorable phenomenon that supports the proper development and growth of the baby and child. Causes of high body temperature in children can be a post-vaccination reaction, overheating, dehydration, some medications and many other diverse factors.

What is a baby’s normal body temperature? And the child?

Normal body temperature in babies varies from 36.5 to 37.5 degrees Celsius depending on the place of measurement. A rectally measured value of up to 38 degrees Celsius is considered normal. In older children, the recorded axillary (underarm) temperature above 37.2-37.3 C is increased.

What thermometer should we use and is there a difference in the measurements?

I personally recommend using electronic thermometers, contact or not, which are fast and accurate. There are quite a few varieties on the market depending on where we are going to measure the temperature. We distinguish external (in the area of ​​the armpit, forehead) and internal measurement (under the tongue, rectally and in the ears).

Usually, the normal values ​​for the so-called “internal measurement” are about 0.5 degrees Celsius higher than the rectal measurement.

What temperature is considered high?

A temperature measured above 38 degrees Celsius is defined as elevated. When the thermometer shows a value above 38.5 degrees Celsius when measured externally, the temperature is considered high.

What are the child’s symptoms that lead us to think that he has a temperature and that we need to measure it?

General fatigue, loss of appetite, drowsiness, redness in the face area are the most common harbingers or direct indicators that the child has a fever. Sometimes, when raising a higher temperature, it is also possible for the limbs to turn blue, which is quite stressful for most parents, but it is a normal reaction of the body.

Up to what temperature value should we not use medication?

I recommend refraining from giving medication up to 38, if possible up to 38.5 degrees Celsius.

When do we not need to contact the pediatrician?

Children usually have a fever in the evening, when it is more difficult to consult a pediatrician. My advice to parents, regardless of the temperature value, is not to panic.

It is a myth that a high temperature necessarily causes a seizure. It is important to be informed that it is not proper to treat the temperature, but the cause of it. In most cases, it is a consequence of a viral infection. Then an immediate appointment with a doctor is not necessary.

In these situations, it would help the body to deal with the infection and in the most common scenario, it subsides only with the administration of antipyretics and antivirals.

At what readings of the thermometer should we seek a doctor?

For me, it is not the value that determines seeking medical help, but the duration. It is in order to visit your pediatrician if the child cannot bring down the high temperature for more than an hour and a half with a temperature-reducing agent. As well as when the temperature is accompanied by vomiting, diarrhoea, cough or another alarming symptom for you.

How can we relieve the child’s condition at home and bring down the high temperature?

Of course, in the first place, it is proper to have the various antipyretics offered on the market in our home pharmacy. I, for example, spend a lot of time explaining to my patients what and when they can use, at what intervals and at what amounts.

External treatment with a lukewarm shower or compresses with lukewarm water in the area of ​​the forehead, the folds of the hands and feet is also a good practice.

Good hydration by giving fluids by mouth is also extremely important, mainly for older children who do not feed primarily on breast milk or milk.

What are the complications of high fever?

Dehydration – if the temperature lasts too long, the child does not take fluids and/or vomits or has diarrhea, the probability of this complication is high.

Convulsion – in practice, convulsion is not an invariable complication of high temperature. It is a complex and rare phenomenon that does not depend on its value or duration.

What do we do if the child has a seizure?

The most important thing is to keep calm. In a seizure situation, we should not reach for the mouth, try to pull out or hold the tongue. It is correct to put the child to lie on his side, keeping him in this position. This will prevent aspiration. Usually, the seizure goes away in a few minutes, even seconds. Regardless of the duration, it’s a good idea to seek medical attention. Usually, after one seizure, the specialists give detailed instructions and a medication to stop any subsequent one.

How often should we measure the temperature of a sick child?

If you have given a temperature-lowering agent, you should measure the values ​​again no earlier than 40-50 minutes later. Parents can usually sense when their child is running a fever. It becomes more restless, tearful, sometimes sleepy.

What symptoms should we watch for while the child has a high fever?

Severe fatigue to non-contact, excessive sleepiness and refusal to take liquids.

It is important to also watch for accompanying complaints such as severe headache, cough, shortness of breath, chest and abdominal pain, etc.

Children often run a fever in the late afternoon or evening. How should we act if the child has a high temperature in the evening, when the GP is not at work? Parents panic how the night will go…

Usually, as long as it is not accompanied by other symptoms of concern to the parent such as cough, shortness of breath, pain in the abdomen, head and chest, the temperature, no matter how high, can be controlled at home with antipyretics, compresses and adequate fluid intake .

It is extremely important to remain calm, not to overmedicate and not to take the temperature too often. Often it can fall even without additional help.

What types of medicines should we always have in the first aid kit at home or when traveling with a child?

First of all, I always give a scheme for using several different types of antipyretics, depending on the age of the child.

There are good products on the market that are indispensable helpers for rehydration. I always recommend that parents stock up on a few.

A probiotic is also valuable on the road, as are antiemetics.

For children who have a tendency to frequent respiratory infections, I recommend taking the so-called an inhaler and, depending on their needs, a specific medication.

What about eating and drinking water during this period?

Fluid intake is undoubtedly important. I advise parents not to force the child to eat. When the organism feels good, the appetite will also return.

How can we contact you if we need a review or consultation?

You can always find a pediatrician at VITA, we also have a Children’s Hospital, at the telephone numbers of the Registry in Base 1 and Base 2 can orient you or you can simply book an appointment through superdoc.bg.

* Vita content

The article is in bulgaria

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