Fever in Children
What are the treatments for the symptom?
Treatment of fever is fairly simple. Parents need to keep in mind that most fevers are part of the body's defense against infection. Treatment should be directed at making the child more comfortable. A fever should be treated only if it is above 104 degrees F or if it is causing discomfort. Fevers of 100 degrees F to 102 degrees F that go along with many common illnesses do not need treatment.
When necessary, fever can be treated the following way:
The child should stay cool by dressing in light clothes such as shorts and a T-shirt. If the child is cold or is shivering, he or she should not be bundled up in blankets. Shivering means that the body is raising its temperature. Bundling the child will only insulate the body and make the temperature go higher. Letting the child wrap up in a bedsheet is a better idea.
A child with a temperature of 103 degrees F or higher may be given a sponge bath in a shallow tub of warm water for 10 minutes. This will help to lower the fever. Cold water or alcohol rubs should be avoided because these make the child too uncomfortable.
The child can be given medicines such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen if he or she seems uncomfortable. Aspirin should not be used in children or adolescents. The use of aspirin, especially in cases of chickenpox or flu, has been connected with a serious disease called Reye's syndrome. This complication causes severe inflammation of the brain and liver.
A child with a fever needs more fluids, so generous amounts of liquids should be offered.
The healthcare provider may prescribe antibiotics, such as amoxicillin, for bacterial infections. These infections include strep throat, urinary tract infections, and acute otitis media.
What are the side effects of the treatments?
Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and antibiotics may cause stomach upset or allergic reactions.
What happens after treatment for the symptom?
Children generally recover from fever with no further problems. They can generally resume normally activities when they feel well enough to do so.
How is the symptom monitored?
It is important to monitor the mental status of a child with fever. Children with minor illness may be fussy and uncomfortable. But they will be alert and responsive to their surroundings. Children who have serious illnesses, however, will seem "out of it." They may appear "glassy-eyed" or not quite aware of what is going on around them. These symptoms are not specific to a particular illness. These are indications that a child is very ill and should get medical attention promptly. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.