School is several things—it is the place where our children learn and develop cognitively, gain social skills, thrive to become self-sufficient and productive members of society. Nevertheless, it can also, occasionally, be a place where they may pick up germs and bring them home. Now that school is in session, children can bring back home a `horde` of nasty germs.
All children get sick; this is part of being a child! A child's immune system is still developing and has not yet been exposed to loads of germs as adults, and that is why children are liable to fall sick more often. Certain infections are very common in childhood, especially among school-aged children; common cold, influenza, throat infection (e.g. strep throat), middle ear infection, and viral gastroenteritis (known as stomach flu) to name but a few. Most - if not all - have one symptom in common; fever!
While it may be scary for parents, fever is the body's typical and healthy reaction to various ailments, particularly infections. Fever helps your child's body to fight the infection; it stimulates his body's defences, propelling white blood cells and other `defence` cells to attack and destroy the cause of the infection.
The normal body temperature range for children is 36.5°C-38°C (97-100.3°F), and it can fluctuate with playing, running around outside (especially during summer), and exercise. A fever is there when your child’s body temperature is above 38°C (100.4°F). It happens when the body's internal thermostat (inside the hypothalamus of the brain) is reset to a higher-than-usual temperature. So what happens in the presence of an infection? As a reaction, the hypothalamus will reset the body to a higher temperature. Turning up the heat is one way for the body to fight the germs that cause infections; creating a less favourable place for them to flourish and replicate.
Fever may develop and rise gradually over a few days, or it may shoot up very quickly. It may also keep on increasing and dropping throughout the same day. More often than not, the degree of fever may not indicate how serious your child's illness is. With a minor ailment, such as simple flu, a child may have a fever of 40°C (104°F), while a more serious infection may cause only a low-grade fever. Accordingly, do not get anxious every time your child has a fever, but keep a watchful eye on other symptoms that might exist in association with fever.
When to see your child's paediatrician about a fever?
Fever in a healthy child is not dangerous mostly, and it tends to regress completely within 3-4 days. The following inklings should be taken into consideration if your child has a fever:
- Does your child have an apparent reason for the fever? A fever associated with runny nose and cough in a child who is still playful, eating reasonably, and sleeping well is not a reason for worry mostly (he likely has viral flu).
- Does your child seem in a much better state once his temperature drops? While a high fever might not regress completely, it can drop partially by cold compresses and medication with your child feeling somewhat better. If not, this would be a good reason to consult your child's paediatrician.
- Is your child showing no improvement? A fever lasting for four days with no signs of regressive symptoms would be another good reason to call your paediatrician.
The reading on the thermometer should not mislead you! Whatever your child's body temperature is, the following indicators necessitate professional care: irritability, listlessness, trouble breathing, sore throat, frequent vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, and dehydration. Also, if your worry is growing, then it is recommended to visit your child's paediatrician. A rule of thumb, when it comes to your child’s health, it is always better to be safe than sorry!
Almost every parent has experienced the feverish touch of his child's forehead and got concerned: is it dangerous? How high is too high? Should I take my child to his paediatrician right away, or I am just overly worried? Fever is common among children of school age, and there is no reason for alarm because not every fever is an indication of a severe ailment. It is often the body's way of combating infections. Here is something to alleviate your concern.
At the Dubai London Clinic and Speciality Hospital, our paediatricians pride themselves on providing compassionate and comprehensive preventative and therapeutic services to all children from birth through adolescence within a warm and child-friendly environment.
We wish your splendid child a successful, thriving, and healthy academic year.
The Department of Paediatrics
THE DUBAI LONDON CLINIC AND SPECIALITY HOSPITAL