How do I know when my child has a fever?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 9,998
    Robin Vick, Assistant Director of Nursing at the Continuum Pediatric Nursing Services, discusses the basic recommendations to help care for a sick child at home including how to know when your child has a fever.

    Host: How do I know when my child has a fever?

    Robin Vick: Well, first of all it's important for us to talk about what is a fever. Fever is the body's response to some stress. The thing with fever is that it's generalized. Fever is the whole body all the systems inside coming together in a reaction to some type of change and because fever can be -- it is very non-specific. Fever alone is not a definition of an illness, it's most often a symptom or sign that's associated with something else. So what I am going to encourage families to do is to look at the child, head to toe inside and out and identify in addition to the fever what else is unusual or changed in the child's overall health and wellbeing.

    To begin to know a little bit more about fever a parent can begin to identify it by looking at some changes that the child might be showing in terms of flushing. Facial flushing sometimes overall body flushing is a common and an early sign that the child is beginning or is developing a fever. In addition to flushing there can be some isolated places of redness. Kids who may be have ear infections, may see that their ears are reddened.

    Kids who may be have an isolated focal infection going on. May be they had a cut and the body is responding to that cut. The place where that disturbance is occurring may also be red and hot. Also there can be some overall sweating. Sweating is a way that the body responds to an elevated temperature. Sweating helps the body to lower the temperature, it's nature's way of trying to get the body temperature down. Some kids may also shiver and shivering in addition to sweating is the body's way of helping to dispense the extra heat that they are feeling.

    A normal oral temperature for child is 98.

    6 and a normal axillary temperature, the temperature taken under the child's arm is about 98. Now there is a third route that can be used as well and that's a rectal temperature, but I am not going to advice that on a routine and regular basis. With the accuracy of the today's digital thermometers oral temperatures and axillary temperatures give a very very good guidance and guidelines about illness.

    Only in unusual circumstances, for example, if a Physician asks that the rectal temperature be taken should a parent feel that they need to assess the fever that way. The oral route and the axillary route will be able to give good guidelines. It's important though when communicating with your Physician that you tell the doctor what route you have been using to make that assessment. So when it comes time to be talking with your health provider you can say, I think my child has a fever you are going to want to say, I have obtained readings of 101 by mouth or I have obtained readings of 101 under her arm.

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