As a pediatrician, the most important question that I ask any parent when they bring in their infant complaining of fever is: “What do you mean when you say that your baby has fever?”
Most parents would answer that they touched their baby’s skin and it felt warm. This is not an accurate estimation of fever. Fever should be measured by a thermometer and I advise the parent to purchase a thermometer to measure their baby’s temperature.
There are different types of thermometers; the most common is the digital thermometer which is placed in the baby’s axilla or the aural thermometer which is placed in the baby’s external ear. The digital thermometers have been found to be an accurate tool to measure temperature.
What is fever?
Fever is an increase in body temperature that exceeds 38 C when measured from the rectum or 37.5 C when taken from the axilla. Temperatures are not usually checked from the mouth of children less than 2 years.
Estimation of fever by touch is not accurate because babies can be actually warm from excessive clothes but do not have an increase in body temperature. Therefore, the best way to be sure is to take the baby’s temperature.
When should I be concerned about fever?
Parents should consult a pediatrician immediately if the baby is less than 3 months old and if the baby is not feeding well. Older infants and children should also be examined by a pediatrician immediately if there is decreased feeding, a rash, abnormal movements noted, vomiting and the presence of headache in young children.
What should I do for my baby till I see a pediatrician?
The first step is be remove excessive clothing and wraps around the infant and check the temperature again. This may reduce the temperature. Another useful tip is to place wet towels over the baby’s head. Avoid giving the infants less than 3 months paracetamol till they are seen by a pediatrician.
Dr. Dunia Al-Hashimi [MBBS, DCH, CABP, MSc Hospital Administration] is the Consultant Pediatrician at Royal Bahrain Hospital. For more information or to book your appointment, call 1724 6800 or plan your visit at www.royalbahrainhospital.com.