Fever can be a part of almost any illness, as well as be caused by something as simple as teething. Its important to keep in mind that the body will never produce a fever over 106 degrees, however, outside environmental factors might raise the body temperature above this dangerous threshold. Fever is part of the body’s normal immune system: the increased internal temperature helps to kill off the bad bugs. Many health care providers now believe that low fevers (under 101 degrees) do not require treatment.
The most important thing to do for a feverish child is to prevent overheating. If they kick the covers off, leave them off. If they are sweating, they are over covered. This is especially important to remember in a baby who can’t undress themselves.
It is not uncommon for an infant to run a quite high fever for relatively minor illnesses. A simple cold can cause a baby to run a fever of over 102. The degree of fever does not indicate the severity of illness (as it might for an adult).
Young children occasionally have seizures due to fever. These look much scarier than they really are. They have nothing to do with the height of the fever, although they might have to do with how fast a fever gets high. If the child has a seizure due to a fever, do not do anything to restrain them and most of all do NOT put anything in their mouths. They cannot swallow their tongues.
The good news is that these seizures (called febrile seizures) do NOT cause brain damage of any kind and they are not generally indicative of epilepsy. It is important to seek medical care when it becomes available, of course, but most of the time, the child will have no after effects.
If OTC medications are available, they can be given according to directions, to keep the child comfortable.
Do NOT give cold baths or alcohol rubs which can chill the child. If the surrounding temperature is warm, or the child is very uncomfortable you can give them a tepid (NOT COLD) bath or rub them down with tepid water. Always be guided by their comfort—if they are cold give them a blanket, if they are hot take one off.
· Ear infections
Most parents will recognize the symptoms of these; the baby or child is in great distress, often crying inconsolably. The outer ear may or may not be red. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen administered according to the directions are the best treatments. If you stagger the dosing, giving acetaminophen first, then three hours later, ibuprofen (or vice versa) you can achieve the same level of pain control as if you were giving the child a more powerful medication such as codeine. Typically, these run their course in a few days.
One good thing to include in your preps if you have children is an otoscope. This is the gadget that the doctor uses to look in your ears. Most of the ones that you get in the drugstore have charts that show what the eardrum is supposed to look like. These are helpful for two reasons; the first being that you can make sure your possibly hysterical or non-verbal child is crying due to ear infection, not some other reason. The other is that if the eardrum is not perforated (that is to say, it doesn’t have a hole in it) you can warm a few drops of olive oil to put in the painful ear. The direct heat is very soothing. If there does appear to be blood or discharge inside the ear canal, do not allow anything (including water from bathing) to enter the ear canal. Heat can be applied from the outside with either a hot pack or sometimes just a warmed dry washcloth.
A perforated eardrum may or may not bleed. A bleeding ear looks scary, but if it is from an ear infection and not from an injury, in all likelihood it will heal itself with no permanent damage to the child’s hearing--they may have some loss of hearing until the rupture heals, however. What has happened is that the pressure of the fluid in the middle ear became too great and the eardrum ruptured under the pressure. In fact, after the eardrum ruptures, you will see an immediate diminishment in the child’s pain as the fluid drains out.