When you notice your child having less energy than usual, a body temperature of 37.8 C or 100 F, and a lowered appetite, you pretty much already know what’s going on – your toddler has a fever.
Fever is common among children because they are exposed to so many things daily. And not many parents know or understand that fever is a good sign that your child’s body is fighting whatever virus or bacteria penetrated them. So, if and when your child gets a fever, take long and calm breaths because your child is going to get past it.
But, if you want to learn more about it (of course, you do. Why else would you be here), read on as we are going to debunk plenty of myths surrounding the proper treatment of a child’s fever and tell you more that you need to know.
What is Fever
It’s easy to dismiss wanting to know what a fever is because you’ve experienced having it your entire life. It’s so familiar that you already most likely know what to do. Or, do you?
First of all, fever is not a disease or an illness. It’s a symptom – a sign that your body has been infected. Infection is a sickness; fever is a sign of infection. So, without a fever, you probably wouldn’t know that your child is already infected. Think of it as the natural alarm system of your body.
The amazing thing is there is only one way to tell whether you have a fever or not. And, that is a temperature check.
Thank goodness for technology as well because today we not only have one method of taking one’s temperature. Thermometers today range from the original design (the mercury thermometer), ear and forehead thermometers, Bluetooth and infrared thermometers, to body scans.
Image source: iStock
Once that thermometer reads 37.8 C or 100 F or higher, that’s when you bring out the acetaminophen and start calling your child’s paediatrician.
Causes of Fever in Toddlers
More often than not, your toddler’s fever will be caused by viruses and bacteria. Other causes would accompany other symptoms apart from fever.
These are your colds and flu. For the most part, fever is the first symptom your child experiences when they get a viral infection, then comes the runny nose and sometimes coughs. If fever is your child’s only symptom and lasts for 3 to 5 days, they might have Roseola. Small, pink, and flat spots on the chest and stomach are additional signs that your child has this type of infection.
Sinus congestion that is not treated right away causes these fevers. You’ll know it’s a sinus infection if your child’s fever has already gone away, and then comes back.
You can instantly know your child’s fever is caused by a bacterial infection when no one else in your household gets sick as well. That means the cause is inside your child.
Meningitis is a common example. You’ll know they have it if, on top of having a fever, they also have a stiff neck, headache, and confusion. Give your child immediate medical attention when you notice these symptoms as delay or lack of treatment can cause brain damage.
Can Teething Cause Fever?
This is a myth. While teething can cause a child’s temperature to rise, research shows that it does not cause fever.
However, if your toddler is displaying signs of teething accompanied by a fever, it can be due to a viral infection since children like sinking their mouths into random items to soothe them.
While you shouldn’t be too worried if your toddler has a fever, there are still some things you can do to help your child feel better in this situation. One of the most common methods of treating fever at home is giving fever medicine.
Administering Fever Medicine to Toddler
Here are some things to remember when your child has a fever at home.
Do give your child medicine for fever
Doctors often prescribe acetaminophen and ibuprofen to treat fevers. If your child is below 2 years old, you’d need to consult the doctor for the right dosage.
Be ready with your toddler’s most recent weight, as they base the dosage on that. If your child is above 2 years of age, the right dosage is usually at the back of the packaging. But, if your child does not have the typical weight for his age, consult your doctor.
Follow the 4-hour interval
Parents ought to administer fever medicine to their children every four hours if and when their child still has a temperature of 37.8 C or 100 F or higher.
Use the right medium to give the medicine
When the spoon and cup you are using do not have measurement indicators, that’s not a proper medium to use for administering medicine.
Do not guess how much medicine you are going to give. Eyeballing at this point is a big no-no. Spoons and tiny cups have different measurements; you can end up overdosing or underdosing your child. So, use a standard measuring instrument. Some medicines come with a tiny measuring spoon or cup when you purchase them.
Do not give fever medicine when your child doesn’t need it
Acetaminophen is a pain reliever and is meant to help regulate the body’s temperature. So, if your child has a low-grade fever (below 37.8 C or 100 F) or if they’re not in any discomfort, do not give them acetaminophen. Should they feel uncomfortable, then you can.
Your child’s paediatrician will usually tell you if you can give your toddler acetaminophen after they’ve had their shot.
Acetaminophen is not a miracle drug. So, if after administering it, your toddler’s fever does not instantaneously go down, do not panic. Give the medicine some time to take effect.
Impatience can lead to overdosing. Some parents would give another dose without reaching the full four hours because they’re frustrated the child’s temperature has not gone down yet. You can make matters worse by giving doses beyond the prescription.
What you can do instead is to try other home remedies to bring your child’s temperature down like giving him a sponge bath or increasing fluid intake.
Do not mix acetaminophen with other medicine
This is another way parents get around giving the right dose but are unsatisfied with its results. They administer another medicine like cough and cold medicines.
Do not mix cough and cold medicines with fever meds as the side effects can be serious and even life-threatening. If your child needs to take these medicines as well, ask their paediatrician about the proper interval in giving them.
Home Remedies for Fever
There are other ways of treating a fever apart from medicine. And using these methods on top of medicine can do wonders. We will debunk several hoax home remedies as we discuss them as well, so you know to avoid them next time.
Give your child plenty of fluids
Fevers can cause dehydration and fluid loss. So, make sure to hydrate your child as much as you can.
Put some cool compress on their forehead
Note cool there. Not too hot – not too cold. Just cool enough that your toddler can withstand the chill. A lukewarm sponge bath would also help make them feel better and help regulate their temperature.
Myth: Giving your child an icy bath does not work. It can actually drive a fever back up.
Put your child in light clothing
Myth: Bundling them up to break the fever. Do not bundle them in thick blankets. It does not help bring down their temperature at all and might even increase their discomfort or cause overheating.
When to Call the Doctor About Toddler’s Fever
Fever can often be managed and eventually goes away after 3 days. If that does not seem to be the case, then you can proceed to give your child more medical attention. These are the signs that you should look out for:
- A temperature of 40 C or 104 F or higher
- Becomes too weak to stand or move
- Severe trouble breathing
- Spots on skin
- Has severe headaches
If you notice any of these signs, rush to call your toddler’s doctor or go straight to the emergency room.
Just keep these pieces of advice in mind whenever your toddler gets a fever, and you and your child will be just fine.
Here at theAsianparent Singapore, it’s important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn’t serve as an alternative for medical advice or medical treatment. theAsianparent Singapore is not responsible for those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend consulting your doctor for clearer information.