A fever is the most common cause among children warranting a trip to the paediatrician. While most parents fret over it, let’s first understand the basics so that we are better equipped as caregivers.
WHAT IS A FEVER
Fever is the body’s way of telling you that it is fighting an infection. Fever stimulates the body’s defense mechanisms. Bacterial and viral infections, intake of contaminated food or water, side effects of certain medications, and vaccinations are the most common causes of fever in infants and toddlers. A body temperature of 38° C or 100.4° F is considered a fever. Most fevers last anywhere between 3 – 7 days. Kindly seek medical advice to know the cause of fever and how to treat it effectively.
WHAT IS HAPPENING INSIDE YOUR CHILDS BODY
Even infants who are verbal at this age might find it difficult to express how they feel during a fever. Some of the common symptoms are body ache, headache, irritability, loss of appetite, lethargy, feeling warmer or colder than others in the same room, crying more than usual and changes in sleep patterns. As parents or caretakers, we need to be alert in noticing these changes and be empathetic.
WHY DO TASTE BUDS DIE DURING A FEVER
Fever changes the way we taste food. When we have fever, our body temperature rises and a higher temperature affects our oral cavity too. When the body is feverish, the water content in it decreases, which results in dehydration. We tend to have a dry mouth on fever, which also alters the taste of the food we eat. In order to fix your sense of taste, you should include more liquids in your diet, along with foods that contain vitamin C.
HOW TO DRESS UP YOUR LITTLE ONE DURING A FEVER
Children should not be overdressed during fevers. During a fever, your body will have set a new high temperature. Your child may experience cold shivers to reach this temperature. Upon medication, the temperature will drop returning to normal body temperature due to which the child will sweat. Dress your child lightly. Excess clothing will trap body heat and cause the temperature to rise. It is best to dress the child in a single layer and then cover with a blanket when cold.
WHAT TO FEED YOUR CHILD
During fevers, your child’s metabolic rate goes up which means that he should be given small, frequent, easy to digest meals. Hydration is of prime importance.
Plenty of fluids like clear garlic rasam, clear vegetable soup, clear chicken soup, dal water, fresh fruit juices, Glucon D water, tender coconut water, lemon juice with ginger and honey, ginger water, barley water, runny buttermilk, spinach water are a few choices.
Steamed foods like dhokla, idli, soft foods like khichdi, soft boiled rice, dosa, rice porridge, watery well cooked curd rice are also excellent choices.
Plain energy biscuits without cream also help if the child refuses to eat any solids.
WHAT FOODS TO AVOID
Food that are difficult to digest and provide no nutrients are not recommended. All deep fried foods, chocolates and candies, processed foods, food from hotels/restaurants, cream biscuits and other snacks and namkeens.
Even though these foods might be very appealing to the child, it is advisable to stick to homemade comfort food rather than giving in to the child’s demands.
TAKE HOME MESSAGE
Take it easy, it’s not necessary for the child to stay in bed all day. At the same time, doesn’t mean to just let loose and attend school or other classes. Stay relaxed with the child. Allow the child to sleep whenever he wishes to and make sure medications are given as prescribed.