Thursday, April 02, 2015

When should your child's fever alarm you?

Babies and small kids seem to get fevers pretty easily--they get cross, fretful, squirmy and miserable.

According to Mary Kay Bartek, MD, a pediatrician at Vanderbilt Children's After-Hours Clinic in Mr. Juliet, Tenn, the fever itself is not dangerous--but it might indicate something else that is dangerous.

A fever is 100.4 degrees. This means the immune system has kicked in to kill some invader.  Bartek says the body is setting the temp, so it won't set it "too" high.

Should a doctor be called in? Yes, Bartek says, if...

This occurs in an infant younger than six months.

If the child is working hard to breathe...rapid breathing, flaring nostrils, and skin pulling in at the ribs.

If the child is dehydrated--dry mouth, decreased urine, decreased tears.

Also if the child is not responding normally...the child probably OK if he or she responds to you, is older than six months, has had all vaccines, and is eating and drinking.

Why treat a fever then? For one thing, children feel better with a lower temp. There are over the counter things they can be given--check with the doctor.

I remember high fevers causing convulsions in kids...Is that debunked now...Not sure. If the child is a cranky, red-faced mess or sleeping too much, call the doc--that would be my advice.

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