Take a minute to take a tem­per­a­ture

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - YOU AT YOUR BEST - SPE­CIAL TO NWA DEMO­CRAT-GAZETTE

There’s a busy school day ahead, but your child wakes up feel­ing a lit­tle sweaty and even turns down his fa­vorite break­fast. As mild as these symp­toms sound, they may mean your child has a fever and needs to stay home – or maybe even head to the doc­tor’s of ce.

While child­hood fevers them­selves gen­er­ally are not dan­ger­ous, what causes them may be, says Neil Tracy, MD, med­i­cal di­rec­tor of the pe­di­atric hos­pi­tal­ist pro­gram at Wash­ing­ton Re­gional Med­i­cal Cen­ter. “Fever is the im­mune sys­tem’s nat­u­ral re­sponse for ght­ing in­fec­tions such as the u, for in­stance, but a child’s fever also can be caused by heat ex­haus­tion, se­vere sun­burn and many other non­in­fec­tious rea­sons,” Dr. Tracy ex­plains.

If your child has any signs of fever – sweat­ing, shiv­er­ing, headache, mus­cle aches and weak­ness, de­hy­dra­tion and loss of ap­petite – it’s im­por­tant to use a ther­mome­ter to check his or her tem­per­a­ture.

There are many dif­fer­ent types of ther­mome­ters, in­clud­ing those that take mea­sure­ments by mouth, by ear or with a swipe across the fore­head. A rec­tal ther­mome­ter is of­ten rec­om­mended for tak­ing an in­fant’s tem­per­a­ture. “What­ever type of ther­mome­ter you choose, just be sure to fol­low the direc­tions for your ther­mome­ter to avoid in­jury and to get an ac­cu­rate read­ing,” Dr. Tracy says.

If your child does have a fever, that alone is not cause for alarm. To help you de­ter­mine whether your child needs med­i­cal care for a fever, Dr. Tracy of­fers the fol­low­ing guide­lines. See a doc­tor if:

Your baby is younger than three months and has a rec­tal tem­per­a­ture of 100.4°F or higher.

Your baby is older than three months and has a rec­tal tem­per­a­ture of 102°F or higher.

Your child is un­der age two and has a fever that lasts more than a day.

Your child is two years or older and has a fever that lasts more than three days.

“Very high fevers – higher than 104°F – can lead to con­fu­sion, hal­lu­ci­na­tions and con­vul­sions,” Dr. Tracy says. “If your child has these fever symp­toms, get med­i­cal at­ten­tion right away, and give him or her uids to pre­vent de­hy­dra­tion.” Also, he adds, seek im­me­di­ate med­i­cal help if a baby or child has:

A se­vere headache or sore throat.

Ab­nor­mal rash or sen­si­tiv­ity to light.

Neck pain and stiff­ness.

Men­tal con­fu­sion.

Re­peated vom­it­ing.

Dif culty breath­ing.

Un­usual list­less­ness or ir­ri­tabil­ity.

Any un­ex­plained symp­toms.

A health­care pro­fes­sional can help de­ter­mine whether the fever is cause for con­cern by ask­ing whether your child is eat­ing, play­ing, alert or de­hy­drated. Dr. Tracy says, “If you are ever in doubt about whether your child needs med­i­cal treat­ment for a fever, call his or her doc­tor.”

Dr. Neil Tracy, MD

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