MORE than one in 10 Irish parents are unsure what to do if their child has a fever and 60% panic when a child’s temperature is high, according to a new survey conducted among 300 parents of under sixes for the medicine brand Nurofen For Children.
Panic is more likely to set in during the first year of parenthood but the good news is — even when parents do panic — the majority (86%) still know what steps to take to reduce fever. Mums are slightly more likely to be in the know than dads.
Parents attempting to bring down fever (defined as body temperature above 37.8°C) should immediately give Nurofen or Calpol (but not if child is under two months), dress the child in lightweight clothing and ensure the bedroom is a comfortable temperature.
“If temperature is very high, remove clothing and bring child near an open window until temperature reduces to a reasonable level,” says Limerick-based pharmacist Aoife Molloy.
All children will be at risk of febrile convulsion if their temperature is 40 or 41°C, while some will be vulnerable at a lower level, Molloy warns. With such convulsions, the child loses consciousness and shakes for one or two minutes.
“The vast majority of febrile seizures are harmless. Some children, in particular those who suffer prolonged febrile seizures, may develop epilepsy as a result — however, this isn’t agreed by all experts.”
If a short febrile seizure occurs, place the child on their side or stomach to prevent injury.
“Loosen clothing. Don’t hold, restrain or put anything into the mouth,” recommends Dr Molloy.
“Once the seizure is over, take the child to a GP immediately. If the seizure continues, time it — if it persists beyond five to 10 minutes, the child should be taken to the nearest hospital. Phone an ambulance.”
Raised temperature is generally not serious if child is eating and drinking well, alert and smiling, interested in play and has a normal skin colour.
Nor does level of temperature always indicate seriousness of illness.
“You can get a relatively high temperature with coughs and colds, while occasionally a serious illness can present without temperature,” says Molloy.
* Fever is often the first sign of illness in a child
Contact your GP if your child:
¦ Is less than a year, especially if less than six months old
¦ Shows any worrying signs such as confusion, neck stiffness or rash that doesn’t fade if glass pressed against it
¦ Has difficulty breathing or is dehydrated, refusing foods, has diarrhoea or vomiting
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