If an infant has a fever, the immune system is fighting off an infection or illness. A feverish infant feels warm to the touch and can appear flushed, sweaty or pale. A fever is often an initial indication in an infant. In most cases, a low fever can be managed at home, but a doctor should be consulted if the infant has a high fever or very young.
An infant that has a fever has an axillary or armpit reading of 98.6 degrees F or higher or if the rectal temperature is 100.4 degrees F or higher. It is vital to seek medical care if the infant is below 3 months old and has fever or if the fever is 101 F or higher. Additionally, a doctor should be consulted if the fever of the infant lasts longer than 24-48 hours or if the fever comes and goes for a week or more.
What are the danger signs?
It is vital to seek medical care if the infant exhibits other symptoms such as sore throat, earache, nausea, vomiting as well as lack of tears while crying and not urinating. Call for emergency assistance if the infant appears confused, has a stiff neck, cannot be awakened easily, difficulty breathing, bluish lips or nails or has a seizure.
How to take the temperature of the infant
The doctor usually recommends taking the temperature of the infant in his/her armpit. You have to hold the thermometer in the armpit for 5 minutes before reading the temperature. Make sure that you have read the directions on the digital thermometer before use. On the other hand, these thermometers seem to be less accurate on infants.
The temperature of the infant fluctuates throughout the day. Try to take off some of his/her clothing or blankets and take his/her temperature again in 30 minutes after the initial reading.
Infants should be given plenty of fluids when feverish, but make sure to thin out fruit juices with water. Avoid forcing the infant to eat while fever is present, yet some babies can be given bland food.
The infant should be dressed in light clothes and ensure that the room is in a comfortable temperature. Avoid covering a feverish infant with extra blankets or clothing since bundling up the child will only increase the temperature.
Ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help reduce a fever but it is best to call a doctor before giving medications to infants younger than 3 months old. Additionally, do not provide an infant with aspirin. A lukewarm sponge bath can help but avoid using cold water or alcohol rubs that can make the infant too cold.
Regardless of the cause of the fever in an infant, a fever that is considered high is enough to bring the child to the hospital or consult a doctor right away. This will ensure that the child is properly assessed and the right treatment can be started.