Fever in infants: what to do now?
Infants and toddlers always have a fever. The immune system trains and an increased body temperature is a completely natural reaction to pathogens. It is not always necessary to lower the fever. Many parents are also afraid of so-called febrile seizures, but with some background information they learn to deal with their feverish child in a more relaxed manner.
In this article
As soon as the body temperature exceeds 38.5 degrees Celsius, your child has a fever. It is best to measure the temperature rectally in an infant, which means with a simple digital thermometer in the butt. This is how you get an exact value. Fever is only a symptom, not an illness. In a baby, even due to an external influence such as too warm clover >
Tip: Give the fever a chance to fight viruses and bacteria. It also has the effect of making your lively child rest. Save medication for when the body temperature rises above 39.5 degrees Celsius.
How fever develops in the body
- The hypothalamus in the brain regulates body temperature.
- Standard values for a healthy baby are between 36.6 and 38.0 degrees Celsius.
- Pathogens can move the temperature controller upwards.
When your child’s body is instructed to work at an elevated temperature, the muscles produce heat through tremors. In extreme cases, chills develop. Now wrap your child warmly to help them rise in fever. If it feels hot and your hands and feet are warm, put it on more easily. As soon as the baby starts to sweat, you will see the fever go down again. The body cools down through the sweat. With a little practice you can see in which direction the body temperature is moving even without a thermometer.
Some causes of fever in the infant
- Infection with pathogens (viruses, bacteria)
- Thirsty fever with insufficient hydration
- Overheating due to warm cl >Fever in infants: how you notice it
Depending on how serious the causes are, a baby reacts more or less obviously to fever. In the event of an infection, newborns and young infants can even be noticed with a lower temperature than an elevated body temperature. The regulation is not yet mature. Many children have dull eyes, are pale or crimson on the face and look tired. A feverish baby may be touch sensitive and cry a lot and shrill. Feel how warm your neck is. By the way, hands and feet can be particularly cold or hot even without a fever. If your baby feels strange, it is best to measure his body temperature first.
Pediatricians assess the measured value according to the following scheme:
- Normal temperature 36.5 to 37.5 degrees Celsius
- elevated temperature 37.6 to 38.5 degrees Celsius
- Fever 38.6 to 39.5 degrees Celsius
- high fever 39.6 to 41.0 degrees Celsius
- Hyperthermia from 41.1 degrees Celsius
When to go to the pediatrician
Newborns and young infants up to the fourth month of life can become very sick within a short time as part of an infection. If such a small child has a body temperature of 38.0 degrees Celsius or more, makes a sick impression, drinks poorly or has a gray skin tone, a visit to the pediatrician is therefore urgently recommended. Other warning signs in older infants are
The pediatrician will examine your baby, initiate necessary diagnostics and therapy or calm you down. If there is only an uncomplicated viral infection, the doctor observes the little patient from day to day and advises you on how to deal with fever in infants. Often the cause of a changed body temperature only turns out after a few days.
Tip: You can find out more about fontanelle in babies here!
Don’t be afraid of fever in infants
If the pediatrician has seen your child and has not found any bacterial infection, you need not be afraid of the fever. If the body responds to the entry of viruses with a fever, its temperature never rises above 42 degrees Celsius. Values above 41.1 degrees Celsius are rare. This is because your baby’s organism protects itself and uses, for example, the so-called heat shock response. The metabolic process protects the brain and other cells in the body.
Fever measurement in your baby
Measure your baby’s body temperature in his buttocks as precisely as possible. This does not hurt an infant if you use a thermometer with a flexible tip and lubricate it beforehand with petroleum jelly or a similar cream. Lay your child on his or her back on the changing table and hold his legs firmly with one hand. The other hand carefully inserts the thermometer approximately two centimeters deep into the anus and holds it tight. A second person can distract the baby. Modern thermometers measure very quickly.
How to help your baby with a fever
Observe the temperature curve as long as your baby drinks well and makes an unobtrusive impression on you. With a newborn, you’d better go to the pediatrician too often. Do not worry, the doctor understands this. Fever in infants causes an increased pulse and faster breathing than usual. So don’t be surprised if you notice these changes. If your baby suffers from the fever (clarified by the pediatrician) and feels visibly uncomfortable, you can give him paracetamol or ibuprofen in the form of suppositories or juice, depending on his age and body weight. Your pediatrician will advise you and also prescribe the medication for your child. However, calf wraps are not yet useful for an infant.
Further help for your baby
Often offer your child the breast, the vial, or water and tea.
- Wash your face and body with lukewarm water to slightly lower the temperature.
- Rest your child and stay with them when they are awake.
Seizures in fever and its causes
A rare but possible complication with fever is a seizure, popularly called febrile seizure. Around two to five percent of infants, toddlers and children up to six years old are affected in Germany. The predisposition to seizures appears to be hereditary. If an affected child begins to have a fever, there may be a disturbance in the transmission of stimuli in the brain and an "epileptic" seizure takes place with a brief subsequent loss of consciousness. Such an occasional attack has nothing to do with chronic epilepsy. Most often, febrile seizures finally stop at primary school age. If an infant suddenly becomes completely pale, shrugs his arms and legs and suddenly passes out, the situation for the unprepared parents is very dramatic. Often you are scared to death about your child and consequently alert the emergency doctor.
In the children’s clinic
An inpatient admission to a children’s clinic now makes sense, since a particularly careful examination should be carried out in children under the age of one. A seizure combined with fever in infants can indicate meningitis (meningitis) that needs immediate treatment. However, the most common reason for febrile seizure is an upper respiratory infection from an uncomplicated virus. The disease usually begins with the seizure and you have not even noticed the fever. Preventing the next infection is therefore difficult.
Some facts about febrile seizures:
- An uncomplicated febrile seizure looks terrifying, but it does not harm your child’s brain and does not restrict its development.
- The risk of your child suffering from a febrile seizure is around 30 percent.
- If your child has recovered from his febrile infection, the pediatrician can measure the brain waves (EEG) and thus rule out the presence of epilepsy in the vast majority of cases.
- Your pediatrician can prescribe the emergency drug diazepam as a rectal solution for your child. If a seizure doesn’t stop on its own, you can help before the emergency doctor comes. However, this situation is the exception.
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