Winter is often a time that brings with it cooler weather, snuggly warm clothes, cups of hot chocolate and colds and fevers. For anybody who has been ill and had a fever, you know how uncomfortable you can be. You’re constantly tired, food is the last thing you are thinking about and you’re sweating with fever. If it is your child with a cold and fever, this can be worrisome for parents because we don’t like to see our children unwell and we don’t often know how to help. Understanding why we get fevers, how it helps our bodies heal and what we can do to support the immune system during an acute cold can take a bit of the worry out of the experience for parents. It can also help our little ones, and ourselves, get back to daily life much quicker.
So here is what you need to know about fevers:
- A fever is generated by the body as a way to kill the bacteria or virus. A fever also kicks into action many different parts of the immune system that helps to destroy the invaders, starves them of nutrition and cleans up the mess of the dead bacteria and viruses. Without a fever, the body can’t get over the cold as quickly because the bacteria or virus is able to remain alive and multiply.
- Hydration is key. If it is a bub with a fever, offering them the breast or bottle regularly will help to ensure they are remaining hydrated. For an older child, sips of water, juice or coconut water often during the day and during wakeful periods at night can help ensure they are hydrated. You can offer ice blocks again made of water, juice or coconut water. Avoid dairy products as this can create more mucus and work against the body trying to clear out dead bacteria and viruses.
- A tepid bath or cool flannel over the head and body can do a lot to make the child feel more comfortable.
- Make sure you monitor how your child is coping with the fever. Are they hard to wake up, not drinking and not communicating? I have attached a file below to print off that can help you gauge the risk level for your child’s fever. I have also attached a file for you to print off that can help you get a visual of if your child is recovering over a 24 hour period.
- If you have any concerns, take your child to the doctors for observations and any tests that might need to be done. Other times to seek further assessment is fever in a baby under 3 months, difficulty rousing or unusually sleepy, refusal to drink, rash or stiff neck and difficulty breathing.
Fevers are a good thing and most of the time are beneficial and vital to healing and recovery. The next time you or your child has a fever, see if you can feel more comfortable with the process and let the body take care of the infection in the most effective way it knows how; with a fever. They tend to be a bit more cuddly while they have a fever, so cancel your plans, stay next to or close to your child and enjoy the extra cuddles you will get. After all, one day, they won’t even want you to walk with them to the classroom. Embrace winter and all that comes with it. It will make Spring that much better.