When the body's core temperature rises by 1°F above 98.6°F (37.0ºC) the person is said to have a temperature; thus a fever can be defined as a rise in temperature by at least one degree Fahrenheit above normal. Temperature fluctuations is actually quite normally experienced by everyone and a child's temperature generally fluctuations by as much as 2°F, above and below the normal; this fluctuation is dependant on many other factors such as emotional stress, the amount of clothing worn by the child, things like the time of day, the temperature of the immediate environment and the level of physical activity the child is involved with. The normal range of a child's temperature can be usually between 96.8° and 99.4°F especially when it is measured through the means of a thermometer applied to the oral cavity.
Certain physical factors such as dehydration of the body, muscular overexertion, and reactions to mosquito bites, bee stings, and other allergic or toxic reactions can also cause a rise in the temperature of the body. Fever is also common when the body suffers an infection from bacterial or viral agents. When the rise in body temperature occurs in a prolonged manner over a week or more without an identifiable reason or underlying cause than the term fever of unknown origin (FUO) is used as a definition for the phenomenon.
The body's reaction to viral or bacterial attack is the cause of a fever in most cases and such an infection is the most likely originator of a fever. The rise in temperature is caused by the body and a fever is essentially not a life threatening condition but serves to make the body as inhospitable as possible for the infective agents. The rise in temperature is the first sign of the body fighting back the pathogens that have invaded the system. The fever makes the internal body a very undesirable place for the viruses and bacteria which do not survive very well in the elevated temperature. Thus the body heals itself or more correctly defends itself through the rise in temperature. The production of infection-fighting white blood cells and also increases with an elevated body temperature; the fever also improves their speed of response and increases their ability to eliminate the pathogens.
The severity of an infection is reflected in the body of an adult by the rise in temperature that occurs once the infection has set in. However, this is not necessarily the case where the bodies of children are concerned. Fever is not a good indicator of the severity of infection or disease in children, for example a child afflicted with mild cold may have a fever of only 105°F, compared to the 100°F that a child with a serious illness-bacterial pneumonia, is likely to have even though the disease is much more serious. Temperature therefore is not a good indicator for the severity of illness in children.
The physiological regulator for temperature is not fully developed in a newborn baby, and this takes some time to develop as the body advances. For this very reason the occurrence of a poor appetite, lethargy and irritability are better and more accurate physiological indicators to assess infection in the body of a newborn than fever. A doctor should be consulted when the newborn has a persistently elevated or reduced body temperature above and below the normal; in such cases other underlying reasons could be at work in the body and seeking professional help is your best bet.
One of the most important steps you can take when assessing the condition of your child, is to observe his or her actions in order to find out the cause of the problem. Ask yourself, how sick is the child? Find out by observing and touching his or her body to verify if she is pale or flushed, if she has a fever, does he or she feel hot to the touch, is the skin sweaty or dry in texture? These are the types of things that you must try to find out. Some things that you must try to find out are whether your child is restless; does his or her body ache? Is sleeplessness a problem? Has he or she suffered a loss of appetite? This are important factors to verify the condition the child is in. Watch out for other symptoms that accompany the fever, these can give you a clue as to the type of disease or condition he or she may be suffering from. For example, a child with fever who also has red spots forming on the skin along with a runny nose, and reddened eyes and increased sensitivity to light which is perhaps more than usual, may possibly be afflicted with measles; the observation of these symptoms will give you an early warning, but a doctor will have to confirm the fact. A child coming down with chickenpox will have fever along with red and itchy spots forming all over his or her body. The presence of a reddish-pink rash and swollen glands in the region of the neck along with a fever may be an indication of roseola in a child.
Sometimes children down with a fever do not require any intervention or treatment. In fact, the use of anti-pyretic medication is unnecessary if the temperature does not 102°F above normal. An elevated body temperature however, can cause a great deal of discomfort to a child in other ways even when the use of medication is not required. Appetite is lost in children with a fever and the child is also unable to get enough rest and relaxation because of the rise in the body's core temperature. The entire body from the head to the feet may ache and become sore. The overall metabolic rate of the body is also increased by the fever and this can have other adverse effects on the child. It becomes very easy to lose a lot of weight and the child may also in addition undergo some dehydration. Complications such as dehydration because of the loss of body fluids can be prevented by gently bringing down the body's temperature; this also makes the child feel a lot better and helps him or her deal with the stress.
Further diagnosis and treatment become possible when the body's temperature is brought down and the very lowering of the child's temperature makes treatment possible and enables the rapid recovery of the child from the fever. Whatever the cause of the disease and whatever the symptoms produced, a child with a temperature of around 103°F or more will feel and look terrible, even if the cold or fever is mild in causation or extreme. Once the temperature has been lowered to some extent; even a child with a cold will begin to look and feel appreciably better, if this does happen, than it simply means that the discomfort was in fact a direct result of the fever. As opposed to this type of fever, a child suffering from a fever caused or brought on by other severe and extreme diseases or conditions will keep feeling a great deal of discomfort and will remain sick even when the temperature is lowered to an extreme degree.
A condition known as a febrile seizure might affect child with fever under certain conditions. This condition is a disturbing condition to observe and these seizures thankfully only occur in a very small percentage of children who come down with a fever. These seizures are related more to the physical characteristics of the children or their genetic predispositions rather than to the intensity of the fever, or to the rapidity with which it occurs. These seizures are recurring and occur at least once again in about fifty percent of children who have suffered at least one incidence of febrile seizure. And in all children who have been affected by these seizures at least once, a third attack occurs in at least thirty-three percent of them. Therefore there is a good chance that a second attack of febrile seizure will affect your child again if he or she has experienced it at least once during the incidence of a fever.
There is no permanent damage caused by these seizures in the affected child even though it may be very distressing to observe a child experiencing a seizure, moreover besides causing no permanent harm to the child, these seizures are also not connected in anyway with conditions such as epilepsy or any other form of disorder that might bring on bouts of seizures. To prevent the chances of a recurrence occurring again, it is best to consult a doctor and let him examine the child for any underlying conditions and to rule out other probable causes of seizures; this step must always be taken after a child has suffered an attack of febrile seizure at least once initially during the occurrence of a fever.
For example, even a day spent at an amusement park is sufficient to bring some children down with a fever. While other children often run a fever only during the course of a serious illness which has affected them. The severity of a fever affecting your child will best be judged by you through careful observation. Immediately consult your doctor if the condition of your child makes you feel uncomfortable in any way.
Supplements and herbs
Many of the herbs given here can be brewed to make a fever-reducing herbal tea; the consumption of these teas will aid in inducing perspiration and in decreasing chills in the fever affected child. Make a combination herbal tea to treat fever in a child from one or a mixture of the herbs or herbal parts such as the leaves of the lemon balm , the flower of the chamomile, the leaves of the peppermint, the root of the licorice herb, and the elder flower. Perspiration is promoted by the lemon balm along with the elder flower; these also have a soothing effect on the body of the child. The body of the child is relaxed through the actions of the chamomile; the herb also calms the child down. A high temperature can also be brought down by the peppermint. The herbal combination tea can be sweetened by the use of the licorice in the tea and this herb also enhances the effects of the other herbs in the mixture. The tea can also be sweetened using a bit of honey, instead of licorice-this option also gives a different flavor to the tea. Allow for at least an hours time to pass between the consumption of peppermint tea and the consumption of a homeopathic remedy. One day of treatment for a child above two years of age can be half a cup of herbal tea, to be taken four times at set intervals throughout the day as long as the treatment regimen continues or as and when needed. The mother of an infant will have to consume the herbal tea for her baby especially if the baby is still being nursed, hence dosages of the tea for a nursing mother will be a single cup of the tea, to be taken four times at set intervals throughout the day. Taken this way, the herbal properties of the tea and the beneficial effects will pass via the milk to the child, thus the healing properties of the tea benefits the baby indirectly and also aids the mother. Such herbal teas are to be consumed as hot as possible, that is, soon after they have been prepared.
The use of an Echinacea and goldenseal combination formula can help the child rid him or herself of possible underlying causes of infection. Both of these herbs are very effective in fighting off infections in the human body and both have proven capabilities besides being effective in their immune-boosting effects and their ability to ward off further attacks from pathogens and other germs. For a total treatment period of eight hours, children can be given continual dosages of one single dose-every two hours. This initial dosage methodology can be changed to one of using a single dose given thrice a day for a total treatment period not exceeding one week.
The following homeopathic remedies are for use against all types of fever in children and can be used at potencies of 6,12 or 30c, at half an hour or hourly intervals in a settled dosage regimen. The frequencies of these doses can be reduced slowly as the person recovers from the illness. These homeopathic remedies are also effective when used at high potencies in the same dosage regimen.
Other beneficial herbs