Coping With Infant Fever
What to do when your baby gets fever...
If your infant feels warm to the touch, confirm that she has a fever by taking her temperature with a thermometer. For infants, any temperature above 37.5 deg Celsius is considered as a fever. Initially you may want to treat your infant at home. If, despite your efforts, the fever does not subside within a week, then bring her to the doctor. Most fevers are caused by viral infections. These are not helped by antibiotics. your doctor will determine the kind of fever and prescribe antibiotics only for bacterial infections.
You can use tap water to sponge your infant. Cold, icy water is uncomfortable to the baby and may cause her to shiver. This makes her temperature increase to counteract her loss of heat. Using tap water is best as it dissipates heat away slowly.
Dress your baby lightly in cool, cotton clothes. The old myth saying that the child should be covered in warm clothing and blanket to sweat it out is untrue. Warmth makes the fever worse. Use a light cotton sheet as a blanket. It is sufficient as a wind-breaker against the cold.
You can give your child " baby panadol " ( paracetamol ) to relieve the symptoms. This can't treat the cause of the fever but makes your baby more comfortable. Grind half a tablet into powder and mix with a little water to spoon-feed your child. Paracetamol will help to bring down the fever quickly within a short time. Give her plenty of water to drink. Offer her the bottle of water at every opportunity you get. The infant may not drink much at a time but needs frequent, short sips of water. This helps her to feel cool and comfortable.
Suppositories are sometimes used for fast relief to bring down a high fever. They are stronger than paracetamol and should not be used liberally. Another disadvantage with suppositories is that you are unable to discern how much medicine is absorbed. Unless the baby is vomiting and unable to hold her oral medicine, don't give her suppositories.
A misconception about fever is that it causes brain damage. High fever does not cause brain damage unless the fever is caused by a brain infection. The observable symptom of brain infection is drowsiness. Your doctor will be able to tell the difference between a bacterial infection, viral infection or brain infection.
A viral fever should not last for more than a week. The baby needs to be seen by a doctor if the fever has not subsided by then. If she is very irritable and sickly, be alarmed enough to see the doctor.
There are no traditional foods like chicken soup to help your baby's fever. Besides, infants below 6 months are not advised to consume animal products. If that myth holds any truth, it is to serve the purpose of replacing lost body fluids. Pure drinking water is the best to replace the body's water lost through sweating during the fever.
Fever is a problem to infants below 2 months old as they are susceptible to bacterial infections and need treatment. Check with your doctor if you have any doubts.