Tales of a first-time mum: 6 mistakes mothers make when their child has fever

Tales of a first-time mum: 6 mistakes mothers make when their child has fever

Over these four years I have seen that many times we jump the gun and treat a mild fever as a serious illness

Being a mother of a four-year-old daughter, I can easily say that nothing scares a mother more than her child’s fever. It can be a tricky thing to deal with when a child has fever, especially for first-time mums.

High fever, for example, leaves me all panicky and I have a tough time taking the temperature of my little one. But over these four years I have seen that many times we jump the gun and treat a mild fever as a serious illness. Which is why, I thought of listing the six mistakes that mothers (including me) make when their child has fever.

#1 Treat fever as an illness

Let me set the record straight, once and for all. Fever is not an illness. Yes, that’s right. Fever is a sign that your body is fighting against an incoming infection such as a cough or the flu. This is why mums should stop taking fever as an illness and look for other signs to gauge what the problem could be.

For example, a runny nose accompanied with a mild to high fever could mean that your child has got the flu. Similarly, a sore throat accompanied with high fever could indicate a throat infection or strep throat. A viral infection, which is common when there is a season change, is often accompanied with high fever and a runny nose and cough. However, if your child's fever is accompanied with a rash that is all over his body or leaves him pale and inactive, go to a doctor.

#2 Not give enough fluids

Another thing that worries Indian mothers is the fact that kids stop having food whenever they have fever. That’s acceptable considering that their bodies are going through a lot.

So, what do you do when you are in such a situation? The rule is simple; increase your child’s fluid intake. High fevers can dehydrate your child considering that they sweat a lot. Also, fevers can drain your child and he would not be in a mood to chew rotis or paranthas.

child having water cropped

You can give your child a lot of soups, fresh fruit juices, and coconut water. Chicken soup is excellent in such cases. If nothing else works, just give him plain water. It's enough to rehydrate him. Also, his appetite would be back once he's fine. Don't worry!

#3 Go to the doctor immediately

There have been instances in the past that I made a trip to the doctor soon after I felt that my daughter’s head was a little warm, only to be told by the doc to keep her under observation and come back if her condition deteriorates.

While a fever that is higher than 102 degrees can be a cause of concern in babies less than an year old, if your child is above that age wait for a 48-hour period before heading to the doctor. Usually the fever will subside after that and other signs such as a runny nose or a cough would crop up that would help you understand the cause of the fever.

"Crocin is the best choice and perhaps your best bet whenever your child has high fever. However, it should only be given as an SOS and when the fever is too high, which is above 102 degrees. Usually the fever subsides on its own. I would also say that parents should avoid giving antibiotics to their kids without the doctors advice," says Dr Rahul Manchanda, a leading consultant Gynaecologist Endoscopic surgeon at Pushpawati Singhania Research Institute (PSRI), New Delhi.

That said, if your child has really high fever (between 102-104), which does not go away even after giving that first dose of Crocin or a fever that makes your child lethargic, drowsy and inactive, consult the doctor immediately. 

#4 Give over-the-counter medicines

Honestly, how many of you reach for that Crocin bottle as soon as you find that your child has fever? While Crocin is the safest medicine to give during a fever, avoid giving it to your child if is below 101 degrees. This is something my doctor has told me. Also, as mentioned above, it is okay to give your child one dose of Crocin if he has a fever that is above 102 degrees. If the fever stays, go to the doctor.

Another thing that is a no-no is giving antibiotics to your child without consulting the doctor. Always remember antibiotics have to be given for a period of three to five days and the course should be completed. Besides, they can have serious side effects and can also lower your child's immunity. Do not ever give your child antibiotics without consulting your doctor!

#5 Not keep a record

My daughter had viral pneumonia when she was two-and-a-half and the doctor was able to gauge the seriousness of her illness by looking at the temperature record that I had kept.

Ask any doctor and he would agree that it’s always better to keep a record of your child’s fever. This is crucial for him to understand the fever pattern and help him chose the right treatment in time.

#6 Not let your child play

Believe me, nothing can be as calming as seeing your child play when he is sick. It just ensures that everything is fine and under control. Besides, it also shows that your child is trying to fight the infection and not letting it deter him from doing what he enjoys the most. Even doctors say that a child that is active and playful is a healthy child.

fine motor activities for preschoolers

While these instances are from my own personal experiences, always remember that as a mother it is your gut instinct and observation that matter the most and are above everything else. So if you feel that your child is really sick, head to the doctor immediately. If not, just wait for a day or so and your baby would be fine, trust me.

Disclaimer: The observations in this column are the author's personal observations which have not been certified by a medical specialist.

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