Very common during early childhood, fever is a natural reaction of the body to an infection. It is most often not serious and simple measures can help to better cope with it. But in babies, it requires more attention.
Symptoms of fever
As recalled by the High Authority of Health, fever is defined by an increase in the core temperature above 38 ° C, in the absence of intense physical activity, in a child normally covered, in a temperate room temperature. It is normal for a feverish child to be more tired, grumpy than usual, have less appetite, or have a slight headache.
Baby’s temperature: when should you consult urgently?
- If your child is less than 3 months old, a fever above 37.6°C requires medical advice. Ask for an appointment during the day. If your regular doctor is not available, call the SOS doctor or go to the emergency room. If the temperature exceeds 40°C, go to the emergency room;
- If your child has other signs (vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing), if he is particularly dejected, it is also necessary to consult without delay, whatever his age;
- If the fever persists for more than48hoursin a child under 2 years of age and more than 72 hours in a child over 2 years of age, even without other signs, medical advice is required;
- If the fever persists despite treatment or reappears after it had disappeared for more than 24 hours.
How to take a baby’s temperature?
A warm front or red cheeks do not necessarily mean that a child is feverish. To know if he really has a fever, you have to take his temperature. Preferably use a rectal electronic thermometer. Measurements under the armpits, in the mouth, or in the ear are less accurate. The mercury thermometer should no longer be used: the risk of toxicity if it breaks is too high.
For comfort, always coat the tip of the thermometer with Vaseline. Place baby on his back and bend his legs on his stomach. Older children will be more comfortable lying on their sides.
Causes of infant fever
Fever is a signal that the body is fighting, most often against an infection. It is present in many diseases and benign disorders of early childhood: colds, chickenpox, roseola, and teething … It can also occur following vaccination. But it can be a symptom of a more serious disorder: urinary tract infection, meningitis, a blood infection…
Relieve and treat your baby’s fever
A child is considered febrile when his internal temperature exceeds 38 ° C. But not all toddlers tolerate fever in the same way. Some are tired at 38.5 ° C, others seem in great shape while the thermometer reads 39.5 ° C. Contrary to what has long been believed, it is not a question of lowering the fever at all costs. But to ensure the child maximum comfort while waiting for it to disappear.
Simple gestures in case of fever
- Discover your child. To facilitate the evacuation of heat, undress it as much as possible. Remove the sleeping bags of toddlers and the blankets of the older ones. Just leave a bodysuit, and light pajamas…
- Make him drink a lot. Fever can cause a lot of sweating. To compensate for water loss, offer your child regular drinks.
- Refresh his forehead. It is no longer recommended to systematically give a bath 2°C below body temperature. If it is good for your child, nothing prevents you from bathing him. But if he doesn’t feel like it, applying a cool washcloth to his forehead will do him as much good.
If your child shows signs of discomfort, supplement these measures with an antipyretic. In younger people, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and aspirin have many side effects. Prefer paracetamol. It should be administered at recommended doses every 4 to 6 hours, not exceeding 4 to 5 doses per 24 hours.
What are febrile seizures?
In some children, the brain’s tolerance threshold for fever is lower than average. As soon as their body temperature rises, their neurons turn on tension, resulting in convulsions. It is estimated that 4 to 5% of children between 6 months and 5 years of age experience febrile seizures, with a peak frequency around the age of 2 years.
They occur most often when the fever is above 40 °, but attacks can be observed at lower temperatures. Doctors still do not know why this or that child is predisposed to convulsion, but we know that the risk factor is multiplied by 2 or 3 if his big brother or sister has already done it.
The course of the crisis of febrile convulsions is always the same: at first, the body is seized with involuntary tremors, arms and legs stiffen and make large jerky movements while the eyes are fixed.
Then suddenly everything relaxes and the child briefly loses consciousness. The time then seems very long for the entourage but the febrile convulsive crisis rarely lasts more than 2 to 5 minutes.
There is not much to do, except to prevent the child from getting hurt, which fortunately remains infrequent. Do not try to thwart his disorderly movements. Just make sure it doesn’t hit objects around it or fall down the stairs. And as soon as you have the opportunity, as soon as the muscles begin to relax, lie it on its side, in the Lateral Safety Position, to avoid false roads.
After a few minutes, he will have fully recovered. In the vast majority of cases, the child recovers in a few minutes and keeps absolutely no trace of it, neither in terms of intellectual capacities nor in terms of behavior.
If the seizures last more than 10 minutes, the SAMU (15) should be called. But in most cases, a clinical examination by your GP or pediatrician within hours of the attack is sufficient. He will thus be able to ensure the benign nature of the seizures and possibly prescribe additional tests, especially in infants under one year of age for whom it is important to ensure that the convulsions are not a symptom of meningitis.
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