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Elevated body temperature in infants and young children is a condition that deserves special attention, as it can quickly lead to dehydration and complications. Knowing the most common causes of fever and monitoring for other symptoms that accompany it can help young mothers make the right decision as to when urgent medical attention is needed and when they can treat the fever on their own.
Elevated body temperature is usually a sign that something out of the ordinary is happening in the body. An exception is the intermittent fever that appears a few days after birth and lasts for several hours. It is not a disease, but is rather related to the normal physiology of the infant and passes on its own.
Slightly elevated temperature in infants up to 3 months old caused by overheating is also not a cause for concern. During the first three months of a child’s life, the body’s thermoregulation is not well developed, and the temperature can vary and be elevated without being caused by a disease. However, extra care needs to be taken to prevent overheating as it itself is not harmless to the baby – it can quickly cause dehydration and circulatory disorders.
Parents needn’t be particularly worried about elevated temperature during teething, as well as after vaccinations if it is not accompanied by other complaints and symptoms.
Most common causes of fever requiring medical examination, identification, and treatment include:
They are hard for parents to recognize, as the child is usually in a good general condition. Rarely, increased drowsiness or refusal to eat is possible. The child may also be experiencing pain when urinating that he/she cannot report if he/she is too young. Urinalysis and consultation with a pediatrician identify the condition.
A main symptom, besides the temperature, is the skin rash. Vomiting or coughing may occur. Parents often confuse the condition with allergies and measles. Help from a pediatrician is needed.
The main symptom is high temperature, while the other symptoms associated with abdominal pain and vomiting appear later. A pediatrician should be consulted as vomiting can quickly cause dehydration.
Viral and bacterial infections are diagnosed and treated by a pediatrician.
Urgent consultation with a doctor is necessary if, along with the temperature, the following symptoms are observed, as well as if the child has chronic diseases:
Temperature that is not too high in older children who are in a good general condition as well as in children who don’t have chronic diseases may not need to be reduced as it helps the body fight the infection. When the temperature is higher than 38 – 38.5 degrees Celsius and the child is in a good general condition – eating and playing – the temperature can be reduced with antipyretics after consulting a doctor as there are conditions that they can’t be used for.
The essential point here is that aspirin is prohibited for children due to the risk of triggering the dangerous Reye’s syndrome.
Until a pediatrician is consulted about the choice of medication, the temperature can be lowered with home remedies – towels soaked in vinegar on the child’s forehead and feet, cold water compresses under the arms and in the groin area.
A child with high temperature must drink plenty of water as dehydration can be critical. During this period, eating is secondary and not as essential as the intake of fluids – unsweetened, preferably pure water.
This article provides basic guidelines. It cannot replace a doctor’s consultation and is not intended to be used instead of one!