How to treat a fever
16:41 (GMT+2), Wed, 04 July 2012
Sister Lilian offers a guide to the different types of fevers and how to treat them.
The normal body temperature for a baby is the same as for an adult: 36–37°C. However, a baby's temperature control system only matures by about the age of four years, and until then, they get hotter and colder than adults more quickly.
A raised temperature is not only a sign of illness, but a method employed by the immune system to ward off bacterial and viral attacks. When an invasion of such organisms is registered, phagocytes in the body release pyrogens which elevate the body’s temperature. A fever slows down the activity of microbes, giving other immune tactics a chance to work. A raised temperature also kills some microbes. Inflammatory reactions offer a form of protection to an area of the body under threat, ensuring less movement, drawing attention to the need for special care, and preparing the affected tissues for the stage of healing.
While feeling the forehead may give you an indication that your baby is warmer than normal, his temperature must be measured with a thermometer for accurate assessment, should you suspect fever. For ensuring the correct temperature under everyday circumstances, rather feel the back of your baby's neck, and if it’s clammy and hot, he may be over-dressed, and if he’s pleasantly warm, all is usually fine. Hands and feet are generally quite cold on a cool day and at night, but this is normal as most heat is concentrated in the baby’s central regions, where the main organs are doing vital work. In fact, a baby’s hands and feet are always cooler. Cool hands and feet may well have the added benefit of being a good stimulus to keep him breathing! In winter months, it’s advisable to use socks or bootees under a full-body suit to keep his feet warm, but his hands don’t need mitts in most South African regions.
Home treatment for feverfever, teething, measles, convulsions, sister lilian