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If you are a parent – you hate the word ‘fever’. It scares you and gives you nightmares.
But because fever is so frightening – and as a parent you want your child to have nothing at all to do with that ominous word - in your enthusiasm to keep the thermometer reading normal – should you do.......just anything?
NO YOU SHOULD NOT!
What is fever?
Fever is the manifestation of disease – rather than a disease itself. Fever can be caused by a variety of disease processes – Malaria, Typhoid, Hepatitis, Dengue etc. – but in the case of children - it is by and large caused by an array of viruses.
What should you do when your child has a viral fever
Most childhood fevers are viral – and viral infections usually do not require aggressive treatment. So, when you first take a child with fever to a doctor – all doctors usually prescribe mild medication to relieve the child’s symptoms while waiting for the illness to run its course.
However, when you are an anxious parent, desperate for your child to recover immediately, you are often unhappy with such treatment and urge doctors to prescribe antibiotics. What is important to realize here is - that antibiotics are for bacterial infections and are useless and superfluous in case of viral infections.
Even though it is a tough pill to swallow – what is crucial to understand is – that sick episodes are like extra coaching for the child’s immunity. When a child is born – he / she has very little immunity. And sickness is the school the immune system goes to, to graduate to eventual good health. It is best then - to grit your teeth and get over viral episodes.
As a conscientious parent - resist the temptation to over treat with medicines and overwhelm with love and comfort.
Beware of excessive antibiotics
Remember that antibiotics are two edged swords. Unnecessarily using an antibiotic is like sharing war strategies with the enemy. Every time an antibiotic is used, the bacteria learn how to fight it and develop new resistance mechanisms. The next time the antibiotic is used, it is not as effective.
Also antibiotics are indiscriminate killers who do not care about the identity of the bacteria they kill. They not only kill disease causing bacteria, they also wipe out other bacteria that keep the body healthy.
Fever is not necessarily always the “Bad Guy”
Fever is extremely discomfiting, but as hard as it maybe to believe - it is actually a protective mechanism. The elevation of body temperature that one reads as fever is protective because it does not allow the disease causing organism to thrive in the body compelling it to leave. Also fever ensures that the child is compelled to rest thus enabling the body to use all its resources to fight the pathogen.
Fever therefore should be medicated prudently on the doctor’s advice. It is not uncommon for parents to indulge in the misuse of fever lowering drugs. This can prolong the illness and result in a harmful overdose.
Suppressing fevers indiscriminately – without consulting a doctor can also result in some major illnesses going undetected for too long and becoming difficult to cure as a result.
A wary – wait and watch approach is what is best employed with a childhood fever.
Build a fortress against infection
As your body builds up your immunity the hard way – contribute to its efforts in really easy ways.
Ensure that your child has a clean healthy environment. Ensure adequate age appropriate vaccination for your child. Emphasize a balanced diet, exercise and sufficient sleep. Remain stress free and ensure your child is too.