As a working mother, I like it when things are under my control. Normally I get a sense of pride when I drop and pick up my daughter from her daycare center on time (almost every day). The whole five-day routine goes on smoothly unless my daughter catches a cold or falls sick. That is when all hell breaks loose.
Needless to say, I feel helpless whenever my four-year-old falls sick and matters seem to slip out of my hands. But over these four years, I have realized that being a little observant could go a long way in helping you and your doctor understand the real cause of the sickness.
What To Do If Your Child Is Sick
Fever, for example, makes my stomach churn and I often hyperventilate trying to take my daughter’s temperature with one hand and holding her with the other in order to get a correct reading. However, while many moms go into panic mode the moment they feel a warm head, I have realized that fever is actually a good thing and is the body’s protective defense mechanism.
Yes, that’s right. While many of us take it as an illness, a fever is actually a sign that your body is fighting an illness-causing bacteria or a viral infection. Of course, I panic when I see my little bundle red, warm, and in desperate need of love and affection, but I keep calm and follow these five rules.
1. Keep A Record
This is something I’ve been doing after my daughter turned two and passed the high-fever risk stage. The first thing I do whenever I think my daughter has a fever is note her temperature down. For the next 48–72 hours (if there are no other symptoms and the fever is not higher than 102 °F), I take her temperature each morning, afternoon, and evening to maintain a record for the doctor.
When my daughter had viral pneumonia, the first thing the doctor noticed was the fever pattern and the fact that it was so high that even the most reliant Tylenol was not helping. While you might think this is uncalled for, the truth is that many doctors are able to gauge the seriousness of the sickness from the fever pattern, especially when the weather is changing or there is a viral infection in the air.
- For instance, in case of viral infections or flu, the fever should not be higher than 38.8 °C (102 °F) over a period of two days.
- In case of strep throat, the fever can be as high as 38.4 °C (101 °F) but would only last for two to three days.
- While fever at the beginning of a cold or a cough is normal, high (or recurrent) fever that comes a week after a cough or a cold signifies an infection, allergy or other serious ailments.
- In case of malaria and other serious illnesses such as pneumonia, and typhoid the fever follows a definite pattern. In malaria, it normally follows a cycle of three to four days.
Of course, if the fever is higher than 38.8 °C (102 °F) and refuses to go away even after you’ve given one dose of a normal analgesic (paracetamol), rush to the doctor.
2. Increase Fluid Intake
Another thing I do when my daughter has a fever is to increase her fluid intake. High fevers can dehydrate your body as you sweat more. Also, my little one usually doesn’t have the energy to sit down and chew solid meals. So, I add more soups, water, and fresh juices to her diet. Chicken soup is best for fevers caused by coughs and colds and is nourishing and soothing at the same time.
Of course, you have to be careful about dairy as it must be avoided in case of congestion or diarrhea. But yogurt and probiotics can be added as they provide the necessary good bacteria to fight the infection.
3. Look For Other Signs of Illness
When my daughter got the hand, foot, and mouth disease the first thing I noticed, along with the high fever, was the small blisters on her hands and feet. Similarly, whenever she gets strep throat, she has a hoarse voice and complains of difficulty while swallowing food.
While fever that is triggered by a cold or flu normally has no initial signs, other fevers can have additional symptoms such as shivers and muscle and joint pain. Unusual drowsiness, confusion, and shortness of breath are other signs you should watch for in order to get the right treatment and help your doctor understand the cause.
4. Monitor Their Activity
My daughter is normally not the type to lie down and relax when she has a fever, a sign which in a way is comforting to me. But the moment I see her tired, exhausted, and not enjoying activities she likes, I know something is wrong.
Always note the activity of your child. If he or she is quite active and playful and the fever is not high, wait for 48–72 hours before going to the doctor. Chances are the fever will subside on its own by then and would have produced additional symptoms, such as a runny nose, a cough or a cold which will help you understand the cause.
5. Give Extra TLC
My daughter turns into a little kitten whenever she falls sick and curls up beside me and holds my hand. I make it a point to cuddle her more and gently rub her back or forehead to soothe and help her get over the illness. Don’t we all know how a little extra TLC can work its magic and elevate the mood in minutes?
Disclaimer: Views expressed in this column are the author’s personal observations that might not be supported by a medical specialist.
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