Fighting a child’s fever: A gameplan for moms

Therese Reyes
Fighting a child’s fever: A gameplan for moms
Expert tips on what to do when fever hits

MANILA, Philippines — A child that feels down tends to be a red flag for a parent. It is usually a sign that he or she is ill. A child’s wellbeing is top priority, so seeing your little one active and having a good time once again is a sight you want to see.  

If your child is unusually lethargic, looks pale, has no appetite and is irritable, a fever is most probably the cause. But there’s no need to worry just yet. As a mom, you probably have your own tried and tested techniques in getting rid of a fever and those, combined with the right information can quickly get your child from sluggish to lively again. 

Your first steps

You can only fight well when you know what you’re up against, so the first thing to do is check your child’s temperature. Pediatrician, Dr. Salvacion Gatchalian explains that the best way to do this is through oral, ear, or temporal thermometers. “Kasi if by touch, hindi iyon tama.” When you check the child’s temperature is important too. For example, do not take it after your child has been playing outside or doing any sort of activity; this will alter the temperature, usually resulting to a higher one. Instead, wait and let your child rest for 30 minutes before checking.

Knowing exactly how high the temperature is makes you more informed and let’s you in on the proper ways to treat the condition. It is not advisable to medicate below 38 degrees but once the thermometer hits that mark, you can proceed with giving your child some medicine.

Most of all, Dr. Gatchalian explains that more than just medicine, hydration is key to effective recuperation. “When a patient develops fever, the first thing you should do is, of course, give fluids. Encourage oral fluids. Water is still the best.”

Keep a pitcher of water on hand and make sure that your child drinks water regularly. A fever can cause the body to sweat more than the usual and put the sick child in danger of dehydration. Water will also help the body cool down. 

Bringing down your child’s temperature

One of the simplest things you can do to bring down a fever is to drink medicine, but be sure to consult with your physician first to know which type to get. Don’t forget to take note of the correct dosage and frequency. Generally, pediatricians would recommend paracetamol because it is safe and acts as both an antipyretic (reduces fever) and analgesic (painkiller), addressing not just the fever but the joint pains that commonly come with it as well. It also takes effect 1 ½ hours after taking the medicine and could give your child up to 3 hours of relief.

Just like any type of medication, it is dangerous to take too much paracetamol, so don’t overdo it. Wait for at least 4 hours in between doses and do not give it more than 4 times within a 24-hour period. It would be helpful to jot down the exact times you give your child medicine, or to set your phone’s alarm to every 4 hours. This ensures that you’re on track with giving medicine.  

Home remedies like a sponge bath will also help bring down their temperature. Keep in mind though that it is better to use water only and not an alcohol mixture. Alcohol is toxic and can be absorbed by the skin. Sponge baths work because our bodies easily adapt to the environment’s temperature. This is why doctors, including Dr. Gatchalian discourage the practice of wrapping your child with blankets to encourage sweating. “Lalong tumataas ang fever kasi pinagpapawis nila, kasi lalong umiinit pag nira-wrap mo.” 

Comforting your child

A fever is more than just feeling hot. It brings about other aches and pains like headaches, joint pains or a sore throat. Addressing these and making your child feel as comfortable as possible is just as important as curing the fever itself and could help improve his or her wellbeing.

Make the environment as comfortable as possible. Give treats that they can look forward to everyday, such as chilled gelatin, which also helps cool down the body.

For a sore throat, the traditional home remedy of using salt water is quite effective. Dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of water and instruct your child to gargle it. This will aid in loosening the mucus, flushing out bacteria, and will help reduce swelling.

Most importantly, let your child sleep. Even after checking his or her temperature and finding out that the fever is still present, it’s not necessary to wake up your child just to drink medicine. Sometimes, sleep is just what they need. “It will help him recover his strength when he wakes up. Hindi mo gigisingin kasi you need the meds. Forget it. Just let the child sleep, so that when they wake up, they’re stronger, they’ve regained their strength.” 

The Road to Recovery

For children, 37°C is the normal body temperature and if the thermometer reflects this, you can finally relax a bit. Keep in mind though that there is the possibility of relapsing, so continue monitoring your child’s temperature for at least 24 hours. Dr. Gatchalian says that if the temperature does not go up within this time period, your child should be okay.

To keep the fever from relapsing, have the child avoid any strenuous activity for the next 3 days. “What’s important is that the child is feeling well, [has a] very good sense of wellbeing, [and is] playful, active.”

Finding out that your child has a fever can be worrying but it could be treated efficiently with a proactive attitude. Opting for the right kind of medication will also help in addressing your child’s discomfort and alleviating the fever. When selecting one, take factors like your child’s age, weight, and temperature into consideration. All these, a warm hug, and some time together, should have your child on his way to a speedy recovery. —


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