Fever in Infants and Children
Thermometer showing a high fever and you’re unsure which fever-reducing medication to administer to your child? Before you head to the doctor or buy a whole stock of medications, it’s recommended that you find out what doctors advise - how to effectively reduce fevers and keep your kids healthy.
If your infant is suffering from a fever above 38 degrees, you are most likely debating what the best way of treating it is - should you wait for the fever to climb, or provide immediate medical treatment? Which medication is recommended? All the answers you seek, right here.
High fever, not always cause for concern
Most doctors agree that if your child has a body temperature of over 38.5 degrees, they’re suffering from a fever. It’s important that you know that on its own, a fever is not a problem and is not dangerous. It is simply the body’s way of responding to an illness, generally caused by a virus, or a bacterial illness focused in one area of the body. When body temperature rises above 38 degrees in an infant younger than three months old, immediate medical attention should be sought. With older children, assess and monitor their state and only seek medical attention if deemed necessary. If your infant is lethargic, suffers from febrile (fever-induced) seizures, isn’t really eating, or exhibits other behavioral changes, consult with your doctor.
Medicating a high fever
Fevers can be reduced without visiting a doctor - there are several over-the-counter fever-reducing medications on the market, most available in syrup or suppository form.
What constitutes effective use of fever-reducing medications?
Generally speaking, when taking a medication, it is important to follow the dosage recommendations (per age, weight and time spacing between doses - usually 6-8 hours), that appear on the back of the box and in the instruction manual. Pediatricians tend to recommend alternating medications with different active ingredients to help reduce fevers, so that they can be administered every four hours.
The most common active ingredient in fever reducers and pain relievers for infants in paracetamol. Most doctors recommend paracetamol as it is gentler on the stomach and there are over 40 years of clinical experience backing its effectiveness.
You can also find another kind of over-the-counter fever reducer at the pharmacy, based on ibuprofen. Its use in children is newer, but has also been proven effective.
Recent studies indicate that combining the use of paracetamol and ibuprofen based medications is more effective at reducing fevers that using one type of fever reducer alone.
A study formulated in the UK had children take a paracetamol-based medication every 4-6 hours and an ibuprofen-based medication every 6-8 hours. This combination was found to be particularly safe and effective. If your child has a high fever, keep calm and try this combination - after consulting with your child’s doctor.