The princess came down with a bout of fever out of the blue on the first Sunday of September. Despite our efforts at sponging and self-medication, her temperature spiked above 40 degrees on two consecutive nights. We became panicky and heeded differing advice offered by well-meaning friends. Being the anxious parents that we are, we started her on a course of antibiotics prematurely which resulted in runny stools for several days after. She’s since recovered (Praise God!) but I’ll share some useful facts from Baby Centre which would help parents stay calm in the face of fever.
1. Don’t panic. Fever starts at 38C
Your child may have flushed cheeks, her skin radiating heat. Sure enough, the thermometer confirms your suspicions, reading 37.7 degrees. Should you dive for the medicine, or make a dash to the doctor’s?
Children’s temperatures, like adult temperatures can rise slightly for all kinds of reasons, from physical exertion to a warm bath to being overdressed. Even time of day can have an impact, with body temperatures rising in the late afternoon and dropping in the early morning. So unless the thermometer reads 38 degrees or higher, you can consider your little one fever-free. If the temperature spikes above 40 degrees with no signs of abating, it’s wise to seek urgent medical attention.
2. Know the difference between Bacterial Fever and Viral Fever
A viral fever occurs when the body fights off an illness caused by a virus, be it an intestinal illness, the flu, or the common cold. Viral fevers tend to subside within three days. Antibiotics have no effect on viruses and should not be prescribed.
Bacterial fevers, on the other hand, occur when the body fights off a bacterial infection, such as an ear infection, a urinary tract infection, or bacterial pneumonia. Bacterial infections are less common than viruses but more concerning because they can lead to serious illness if left untreated. Antibiotics are usually required.
Viral fever often spikes to high temperatures and then come back down, only to spike up again later. Bacterial illnesses are more likely to cause a fever that goes up and stays up for a while before breaking and returning to normal. If you’re in doubt whether your child’s fever is viral or bacterial, the doc can do a finger-prick blood count test to ascertain the cause. We brought Dana to Parkway Health Laboratory at Gleneagles to have hers done on the 6th day of fever. The results showed she was having a viral fever and doc ordered a halt to the antibiotics immediately. A blood test is useful as it rules out other fever-inducing factors like Dengue and Encephalitis.
3. Treat the symptoms, not the number
Many parents believe that the higher the fever, the sicker the child, but that’s not the case. A baby with a temperature of 39 degrees may appear perfectly comfortable, contentedly playing with her toys, while a baby with a temperature of 38 degrees may be fussy, tired, and need constant nursing.
Docs suggest that parents should treat the discomfort, rather than fever. Instead of focusing on the thermometer’s fluctuations, pay attention to other signs to determine how sick your child is. It’s much more important to look at symptoms. Listlessness, lethargy and fatigue, for example, are better indicators of illness than temperature. Dana was visibly less active (and less chatty!) during the fever week and she had no appetite for food. Our priority was to keep her well hydrated with clear soups, juices and lots of fluids. We also ensured she gets plenty of rest in a well-ventilated room so her body can reconstitute itself.
4. Use medications judiciously
Your first line of defence should be to try bring the fever down with a sponge bath. Use room temp water to wipe down your child’s skin, particularly the forehead, neck and underarms. I dripped a few drops of Peppermint Eessential Oil into the water before sponging and found that it helps. I also diffused Purification, Thieves and RC essential oils (from Young Living) in her bedroom and throughout the day to strengthen her immunity.
If your child seems very uncomfortable and sponging doesn’t do the trick to bring down the temperature, then you should administer medication. For Dana, the doc prescribed paracetamol and ibuprofen. This is a sample timetable we followed:
7.30am Paracetamol (4 hourly)
8.00am Ibuprofen (6 hourly)
3.30am Paracetamol (We skipped this feed as it’s right smack in the middle of the night)
and the cycle repeats
Cooling TCM Remedy for Fever – Ling Yang Drink
Since antibiotics doesn’t treat viral fever and a child simply has to ‘ride it out’, our friend Joanne recommended that we bring down Dana’s fever with this TCM remedy – ‘Ling Yang’ (Antelope’s horns) Drink. I’ve never brewed any TCM drinks for the family (apart from Barley) so this was a good learning opportunity for me!
Makes: 2 cups
• 5g Ling Yang ( 羚羊)
• 5g Mai Dong (麥冬)
• 2 bundles Deng Xin Cao (燈心草)
• 10g Winter Melon Strips (or rock sugar)
• 2 cup Water (500ml)
*You can easily buy prepacked ingredients to make the Ling Yang Drink from Chinese medicinal shops like Hock Hua and Eu Yan Sang. If you are in a hurry, you can also buy ready made Ling Yang Drink (at S$5 per bottle) from their counters.
1. Bring everything to boil, reduce the fire to lowest then simmer for 30min (or until the 2 cups water have been reduced to 1 cup).
2. Drink it warm or when it has cooled.
Note: If you have a double boiler, its best to double boil for 1 hour. Since this is a TCM drink, please leave a two hour interval between the fever medication and Ling Yang Drink. You can also serve this cooling Ling Yang Drink to your family on ‘non-fever’ days once a week to reduce the ‘heatiness’ of the body. Drink up and stay healthy!
|(Credits: Celestial Dish)|
Adora Tan says
So glad that Dana is back to health again! It must have been so worrying for you. Thank you for sharing this. I grew up in the generation of antibiotics for everything so it’s very interesting for me to read about the differences of viral and bacterial fever. In our little family we also try our best to go for natural remedies instead of turning straight to meds. Where hubby is from, children below five dont even go to the doctor; they get their meds from the pharmacy. And what do babies get for a cold? nothing. Just TLC 🙂 We use the same oils you mentioned!
Hi, came across yr web while searching on info for lin yang.. Jus wanna ask if u can recall if the viral fever lasted for how long n is it usually at night? My child is having fever for 6 days already. Did blood test to rule out any bacterial infection. Her fever usually spikes at night. Day time is ok. We r at wits wat to do. Am going to buy ling yang to try..
David S says
thanks for leaving a comment. Viral fevers can take more than a week to subside and yes, they tend to spike in the night. It’s good that you’ve brought your child for blood tests to rule out bacterial infection. You can try boiling ling yang for her to drink, but still administer the paracetamol which docs have administered (giving ample time allowance between the two). Praying for her speedy recovery!
Hi, do you need to wait between sponging with peppermint oil and giving paracetamol or ibupruffen? Thanks
Angie. S says
thanks for dropping by our blog. I usually do it concurrently, no issues.
Thank you for your information… last year my daughter had hfmd n the doc prescribed same as your mentioned above.and she cured within 5days.i dint not break the cycle.. whole day and night I set my alarm n given her the medicine.this time she had again so I’m going to do the same.
Angie. S says
thanks for dropping by. We are sorry to hear that your daughter was also down with HFMD. Hope she’s fully recovered by now. Take good care!