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Having a child is not an easy task. Although they come as a blessing, parents go through a lot of stress and pain while raising them. They do everything possible to keep them safe and healthy. And since children do not have a well-developed immune system, several precautionary measures have to be taken to keep away viral infections in babies.
As a parent, it is important to be more attentive towards changing weather conditions since your children could be vulnerable to common infections. However, instead of panicking, parents should educate themselves on the various symptoms of diseases, their causes and how to seek proper treatment from a doctor.
Viral Fever in Babies – Things You Need to Know
Nothing is more upsetting than seeing your child suffer. Viral fever in infants causes them discomfort. Due to the humid climate and wet surroundings during the monsoons, children become more susceptible to the surrounding germs. Therefore they become prone to viral infections like cold and flu.
Although viral infections are common among people of varied ages, children are more at risk of catching a viral fever. It is a condition that spreads from one person to another. For instance, if a person having viral infection sneezes or coughs near a healthy person, then the latter may catch the virus as well. This happens because the viruses tend to be able to transfer through the air and infect a person.
Kids are most likely to get infected when they are in close contact with each other at places such as schools, playgrounds, or childcare centres. A child with a runny nose can infect another through tiny droplets that are transmitted to the air when the child sneezes or coughs. It is a common myth that the body temperature rises only when a person has a fever; the fact is that the temperature of a person’s body keeps varying throughout the day. Fever is a common condition that usually occurs during seasonal changes. Due to fever, the body temperature rises above the normal level (i.e. 98.6° F or 37° C). This is not just a symptom but a sign that indicates the natural reaction of the body towards illness.
Although a fever suggests that your child is unwell, symptoms such as body ache, lack of appetite and feeling lethargic might be an indication that a virus has infected your infant.
Parents might also notice that their child falls ill frequently and catches other infections shortly after recovering from the previous one. This is a common phenomenon as children can have between 6 to 10 viral infections in their initial few years. However, the frequency gradually reduces as they grow older.
What to do if your Baby has Fever?
It is heartbreaking to see your child unwell. Instead of getting worried, you should monitor your child’s body temperature at regular intervals. If the temperature keeps rising, your child needs immediate medical care under a doctor’s supervision.
Some viral infections such as diarrhea, sore throat, ear infections and vomiting usually get better in three days without any intensive medical treatment. Other diseases like heat stroke and measles require immediate medical intervention. These can be diagnosed based on various symptoms. Parents should be vigilant around babies, especially those under six months.
Fever Temperature for Babies
Fever in infants ranges between 100° F and 103° F. Temperature below 100° F is not a fever. For instance, at times, you may notice that your child’s cheeks are turning red and his body is radiating heat. When you check the temperature using a thermometer, it reads somewhere around 99° F. You might think of rushing him to a doctor or might want to resort to medication. However, children having a rectal temperature lower than 100.4° F are considered normal. Parents need not panic in such a situation
The body temperature of babies could vary due to various reasons like layered clothing, a warm bath or physical activity. Sometimes, it is important to observe your child’s behaviour rather than keeping track of his temperature. For example, a baby, with a temperature of 100.3° F may seem fatigued and fretful. On the other hand, a child with a 103°F temperature may look normal and would jovially be playing with his toys.
Signs & Symptoms of Viral Fever in Children
Although fever is the first symptom that indicates that your child is unwell, other signs that indicate whether they need urgent medical treatment or not are listed below.
- Your child has a sore throat and is shivering.
- Your child is suffering from diarrhea and a cough for over two weeks.
- Your infant is looking fatigued due to frequent vomiting and diarrhea.
- Your child is facing difficulty in breathing (taking shallow or rapid breaths) due to a blocked or runny nose.
- You notice a rash on your child’s skin and redness in their watery eyes. Kids with viral fever usually look pale.
- The fever persists for more than three days and you are unable to control it with the prescribed medicine and there is a gradual rise in temperature, i.e. above 100.4° F.
- Your child is feeling lethargic and wants to sleep often.
- Your child is complaining of a headache or a pain in the stomach.
Your child is complaining of a headache or a pain in the stomach.
What are the Causes of Fever in Babies?
It is not necessary that your baby has a fever due to a viral infection. There are instances when this could occur due to a heat stroke or a bacterial infection as well. It is important to know the difference.
A baby’s body shows symptoms of viral fever when it reacts to the illness resulting due to a virus. Such kinds of viral fever usually do not require antibiotics, as antibiotics do not have any effect on the virus and recede in three days.
A bacterial fever occurs due to a bacterial infection. Examples of this include an infection in the urinary tract and ears, bacterial pneumonia or bacterial meningitis. Although bacterial infections do not occur as frequently among children as viral infections, it still becomes a matter of concern if not treated on time and can cause severe illnesses.
Treatment for Fever in Infants
If a baby is below three months of age and has a rectal temperature of any higher than 100.4° F, then it needs medical attention. Also, if your child is two years or above with a temperature of 104° F or higher, then you should immediately consult a doctor. Given below is the infant fever chart that will indicate how soon you need to take your baby to a doctor.
|Normal Temperature||Alarming Fever|
|Thermometer placed in mouth (96° F – 100° F)||99.6° F or above|
|Thermometer placed under armpit (94.5° F – 99.1° F)||99.2° F or above|
|Thermometer placed in rectum (97° F – 100.4° F)||101° F or above|
Mentioned below are the medical treatment procedures that should be followed if your baby has a high fever.
- Firstly, consult a paediatrician. It is likely that the doctor prescribes vaccinations that should be given to your child at regular intervals as protection against flu.
- As viral infections are caused mostly due to climate change, especially during monsoon, parents must be cautious during this time.
- Do not give aspirin to your infant as it increases the risk of Reye’s syndrome, which is a severe condition and can even prove to be fatal.
- Doctors usually recommend ibuprofen or acetaminophen to treat viral infection in children.
- To treat dehydration caused by vomiting and diarrhoea, give your baby enough liquids. This will help replace all the lost fluids.
- Giving your child a sponge bath with warm water is also recommended since it will help lower their body temperature.
Home Remedies for Fever in Children
Even though medicines prescribed by doctors will cure your child, other home remedies will help them to recover soon. First and foremost, let the baby get plenty of rest and allow fresh air in their room. You may give them warm fluids such as soups frequently but in small amounts. Also, give them plenty of water. This will help to soothe their sore throat and recover the nutrients and energy lost due to continuous vomiting and diarrhoea. Warm milk at night will improve the quality of their sleep. ORS is the best option to rehydrate your child. It is essential for mothers to continue breastfeeding their infants because breast milk has all the essential nutrients that will help the baby combat infections.
You may use nose drops or a vaporiser to clear your baby’s blocked nose and help ease their breathing. Continue this for a few days so that the germs will die in the process.
It is advisable not to send your child to schools or childcare centres while they are unwell because this might worsen their condition. Also, they might end up spreading the infections to others too. Let them stay at home until they recover completely.
Parents should teach their children the basics of hygiene, such as using tissues and throwing them into the bin after use and washing their hands or using a hand-sanitizer after they cough or sneeze. Also, make sure that their clothes are washed separately and their utensils are sterilised.
In addition to the measures mentioned above, it is suggestive that you keep mosquitoes away using natural medications. Also, don’t let any person suffering from flu, to come in contact with your baby. It will be better to instruct them to maintain some distance even if they wish to go near your child. So instead of getting anxious, follow these methods with patience. With three to four days your child will start showing signs of recovery. If none of this is helping, then you should seek advice from your paediatrician at the earliest.