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Fever In Infants

 

Fever is a rise in body temperature above the normal body temperature of around 37°C. This base temperate may vary slightly depending on individual differences and may fluctuate during the day or night.

 

 

Causes
A fever can be triggered by a viral or bacterial infection which resets the body’s thermal temperature to a higher level. A mild fever of around 39°C can assist the immune system in fighting infection. The most common cause of fever in infants is bacteria causing a Urinary Tract Infection.

 

Other occasions where fever may arise include:

  • Sunburn,
  • Drug reactions,
  • Major trauma,
  • Surgery, 
  • Tropical diseases such as malaria.

 

 

Diagnosis
Diagnosis of a fever in infants is usually taken using a rectal thermometer as this is the most accurate means of measuring temperate. A fever is classified as ‘mild’ if it is between 37.8°C and 38.5°C, and ‘high’ if it is above 38.5°C (although these figures may change slightly depending upon the diagnostic tool and body part tested, so always follow instructions). An acute fever lasts a short period of time and a chronic fever can be ongoing or intermittent.

 

Fever is a symptom, not a medical condition so is not indicative of the seriousness of an illness. For example, life-threatening meningitis may only cause a small rise in temperature whereas more severe fevers may occur with easily treatable viruses. Fevers can trigger convulsions in children between the ages of six months and six years, and a fever of 42.4°C or higher can cause permanent brain damage.

 

In addition to a high temperate, symptoms of fever may also include:

  • Shivering or shaking,
  • Feeling hot and sweaty,
  • Loss of appetite,
  • Flushed face,
  • Chattering teeth,
  • Headache,
  • Muscle aches,
  • Dehydration.

 


Treatment
Fever itself is not a disease, but a symptom of an underlying medical condition therefore, management of fever is dependent upon examination of what is causing it. Toddlers diagnosed with a high fever should be seen by a doctor who will undertake a thorough medical history, physical examination and blood tests to determine the cause of the fever.

 

Some examples of management of fever include:

  • Decreasing body temperature,
  • Hydration,
  • Application of a cool towel on surface of skin,
  • Rest.

 

 

Disclaimer
The content displayed on this webpage is intended for informational purposes and is a guide only. It does not replace or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Information contained on this webpage must be discussed with an appropriate healthcare professional before making any decisions or taking any action based on the content of this webpage.

 

Sources

Better Health
http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Fever

 

ABC Health and Wellbeing
http://www.abc.net.au/health/library/stories/2011/08/17/3294499.htm

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1834870-overview