Alyssa is running a high fever of 39.5° C this morning. It started out as a mild fever yesterday morning at 37.6° C. This is her 3rd week in preschool.
After her 1st week in preschool, she had a running nose and mild fever that weekend and she missed school on the Monday on her second week of school. She recovered fast and went back to school on Tuesday and it’s a short week that CNY week.
We know it’s common for children to fall sick when they attend day care but it seems that Alyssa is falling sick easily. She has a mild cough early week and I saw a child in her class having cough too. And I guess she contracted the virus in school and had resulted in a fever.
I woke up at 530am in the morning to breastfeed Asher. Alyssa started crying. She had her fever medication around 930pm the night before as she was 38° C. She was 39.3° C at 6am which got us worried. She rejected her medication and won’t allow me to stick the cooling pad on her forehead. My hubby had to cool her down by dapping a wet cloth with cold water on her forehead and neck.
At 10am, her fever did not subside and rose to 39.5° C. As a parent, I worry if such high fever will cause any brain damage. I fed her again with paracetamol before I bring her to her pediatrician, in case the fever hits 40° C.
Every parent often worry about this, but brain damage from a fever is extremely unlikely. I thought fever as high as 40° C will cause brain damage. This is a myth, as told by Alyssa’s pediatrician, Dr Kenneth Chua of SBCC Baby & Child Clinic.
I did a little research on this. Now then I know that it’s not unusual for a sick toddler to run a temperature of 40° C or even 40.5° C. Although fevers over 41.1° C are very unusual, unless a child is trapped in a hot place or overdressed, most children can tolerate a temperature of slightly greater than 41.6° C without long-term effects from the fever itself.
Keep in mind that a fever is not an illness — it’s a way for the body to fight disease. A higher temperature enables the body to attack harmful bacteria or viruses, which prefer an environment of around 37° C. A fever also tells the body to make more infection-fighting substances like white blood cells and antibodies. Of course, when your toddler starts to get a high fever (39.4° C or higher), you’ll want to take steps to bring it down.
The most important thing is how ill your child looks and acts. Tell the doctor about other symptoms when you bring him into the clinic to be checked.
Some children between 6 months and 5 years of age have brief seizures when they’re running a high fever, but even these febrile seizures don’t cause brain damage.
Some Facts about fever:
-Fevers turn on the body’s immune system and help the body fight infection. Fevers are one of the body’s protective mechanisms. Normal fevers between 37.8° – 40° C are actually good for sick children.
-Fevers with infections don’t cause brain damage. Only body temperatures above 42° C can cause brain damage. The body temperature climbs this high only with extreme environmental temperatures (for example, if a child is confined to a closed car in hot weather).
-Only 4% of children can have a febrile seizure.
-Febrile seizures are scary to watch, but they usually stop within 5 minutes. They cause no permanent harm. Children who have had febrile seizures do not have a greater risk for developmental delays, learning disabilities, or seizures without fever.
-Fevers only need to be treated if they cause discomfort. Usually fevers don’t cause any discomfort until they go above 39° or 39.5° C.
-Because the brain has a thermostat, fevers from infection usually don’t go above 39.5°- 40° C. They rarely go to 40.6° or 41.1° C. While the latter are “high” fevers, they are harmless ones.
-With treatment, fevers usually come down 1° or 1.5° C.
-Fevers that don’t respond to fever medicine can be caused by viruses or bacteria. It doesn’t relate to the seriousness of the infection.
-The fever will normally last for 2 or 3 days with most viral infections. Therefore, when the fever medicine wears off, the fever will return and need to be treated again. The fever will go away and not return once your child’s body overpowers the virus (usually by the 4th day).
-If the fever is high, the cause may or may not be serious. If your child looks very sick, the cause is more likely to be serious.
-How your child looks is what’s important, not the exact temperature.
-These temperatures (37.1° to 37.8° C) are normal variations. The body’s temperature normally changes throughout the day. It peaks in the late afternoon and evening. An actual low-grade fever is 37.8° – 39° C.
Remember that fever is fighting off your child’s infection. Fever is one of the good guys.