1 What is a fever?
The concept of fever
Body temperature is controlled by the hypothalamus of the brain. The hypothalamus regulates body temperature by balancing the production of heat by the muscles and liver with heat loss through the skin and lungs.
Fever occurs when the hypothalamus raises body temperature . Fever is usually caused by the immune system's response to infectious agents such as bacteria or viruses.
What effect does fever have on children?
– Positive: When there is a fever, the body's immune system increases activity , stimulates the immune response and destroys disease-causing antigens.
Therefore, when a child is vaccinated , if a child has a fever and must use fever-reducing drugs, it will lead to a decrease in the child's immune response.
Fever also has certain effects on the body. High fever increases the risk of hypersensitivity reactions, causes shock, increases lysis , leading to a decrease in zinc and iron in the blood.
In addition, fever also causes dehydration , electrolyte disturbances, convulsions, very dangerous for children and infants. Subjects with high fever may experience other neurological damage , such as delirium, confusion, exhaustion, fatigue, heart failure, anorexia, respiratory failure…
How to recognize a fever?
– When the body temperature is 1°C higher than the normal body temperature. Specifically, when fever, the temperature is over 38 degrees Celsius when measured in the anus or mouth, over 37.5 degrees Celsius when measured in the armpit.
– On average, if the body temperature fluctuates between 37.5 – 38 degrees Celsius , the newborn is showing mild fever.
– In case of high fever when the temperature rises to 38 – 39 degrees Celsius , the mother needs to take measures to reduce the fever immediately. If the child has a high fever of up to 40 degrees Celsius , and concurrent symptoms of convulsions, the mother should take the baby to the hospital immediately to be examined and treated promptly.
2 How to use a thermometer to determine a child's temperature
Usually rectal temperature is the most accurate method. Parents should use instead because it 's more common and safer . Mercury is very toxic, and if the thermometer is broken, it can be dangerous for young children.
Here are the methods of measuring the body temperature of children:
Measure body temperature in the armpit
- Keep in the armpit of the child (need to dry the armpit before measuring).
- Ask your child to hold the thermometer by pressing his elbow to his chest for about 4-5 minutes .
Measure body temperature in the mouth
This method should not be performed when the child has eaten or drank hot food within 30 minutes . When doing so, parents do the following:
- Wash the thermometer with cold water and soap and then rinse with water.
- Place the tip of the thermometer under the child's tongue, ask the child to hold the thermometer with his lips, keeping his lips closed around the thermometer.
- Keep the thermometer in place: with a mercury thermometer, children need to hold it for about 3 minutes and with an electronic thermometer, children only need to hold it for less than 1 minute .
Measure body temperature in the ear
This method does not apply to children under 6 months old . If your child has just been outside in the cold, you need to wait at least 15 minutes before taking the temperature. Ear canal and ear disease will not affect the display of the child's body temperature. Measure as follows:
- Pull on the child's outer ear before inserting the thermometer.
- Hold the thermometer probe in your ear for 2 seconds .
Rectal body temperature measurement
- For infants and young children to lie face down in the lap of adults.
- Apply a little lubricant (e.g. vaseline) to the end of the thermometer.
- Gently place the thermometer into the child's anus until the silver tip of the thermometer is no longer visible (about 0.6 – 1.3cm inside the anus).
- Keep the thermometer in place: wait about 2 minutes for a mercury thermometer and 1 minute for an electronic thermometer.
3 Levels of fever in children and how to handle them
Normal temperature of the child: In the range of 36.5 degrees Celsius – 37.2 degrees Celsius (the temperature is measured under the armpit).
– Newborns can have hypothermia even in the summer, making them more susceptible to illnesses such as pneumonia. Therefore, it is necessary for the child to lie in a well-ventilated room, with a room temperature of 28-30 degrees Celsius (greater than 25 degrees Celsius) , with enough light. Do not wrap the baby too tightly, it can cause fever, skin inflammation, and pneumonia,…
– If the child's temperature is greater than 37.5 degrees Celsius : Let the child lie in a well-ventilated room, loosen the clothes, use a warm towel to apply to the child in positions including: forehead, armpit, groin. Closely monitor the child's temperature.
– If it is higher than 38.5 degrees Celsius, take the child to the nearest medical facility, use fever-reducing medicine for the child.
– If the temperature is less than 36 degrees Celsius , actively warm the baby with a blanket or by the skin-to-skin method.
To ensure that the body temperature is always in a normal state of exchange, it is best that the infant's body temperature should always be maintained at 36-37°C . If the body temperature is different from this, either an increase of 1°C or a drop of 1°C are both very dangerous.
Normally, the temperature measured in the oral cavity is always 0.3 – 0.5°C lower than the anal temperature. Meanwhile, the temperature in the armpit and neck is always 0.3 – 0.5°C lower than the oral cavity.
4 Notes when taking care of children with fever
Fever increases the risk of dehydration in children, parents should give children enough fluids. Drinks such as milk and water need to be added to the child in the required amount. If the child refuses to drink water, milk or cannot, parents should consult a pediatrician.
Pay attention to adding nutritious foods to your baby, divide them into many small meals during the day, and give them lots of fruits and vegetables to supplement vitamins. When the baby has a fever, parents should let the baby wear loose , comfortable clothes, not too warm clothes .
Fever causes fatigue and discomfort for children. Therefore, parents should give children more rest . Children can return to school and participate in other activities 24 hours after their temperature returns to normal.
Immediately return to the doctor if the child does not have a fever after 2 days of treatment or the disease shows signs of worsening.
When measuring the child's temperature, it is found that the child's body temperature is too high or the fever is accompanied by many unusual symptoms such as convulsions, rashes, etc. Parents should quickly take their children to the centers reputable medical care for timely examination and treatment.
The body temperature of a newborn is also different from that of an adult, and caregivers need to be aware of this and monitor the child's temperature every day to provide the most appropriate care.
Reference and synthesis at: vimec