Infants and children are at an increased risk of contracting viruses and infectious diseases due to their lower immunity, minimal exposure to pathogens and vaccines, tendency to gather in groups (daycare, parks etc) and difficulty with hygiene (hand washing, toileting, putting things in their mouth etc).
For parents, taking care of a sick child can be very stressful, checking on them throughout the night, deciding when to give medication or when/if to escalate care can be exhausting and nerve wracking.
A fever is when the body temperature rises above 38 degrees and is usually the body’s way of fighting off infections. When a child is experiences a high fever, it is usually accompanied by pain or discomfort, keeping watch of their temperature is important to help you decide if further medical care is needed.
Below are my top 3 childhood illnesses that may involve a fever, what to watch out for, some treatment tips and a review of the new Feversmart thermometer by Nurofen.
The most common viral infections of the gastrointestinal system are norovirus and rotavirus. They are highly contagious and can cause vomiting and/or diarrhea ( up to 10 days). It is usually not a serious ( but very unpleasant!) or life threatening unless a child becomes dehydrated and/or is under 6 months of age. The main treatment for gastro is maintaining hydration and providing comfort. Some parents may use oral rehydration solutions to assist in rehydrated their child while they are suffering from nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Children should be kept isolated from others for 24 hours after the last episode of vomiting and diarrhea. Hand hygiene is essential to reducing the spread of gastro.
Hand foot and Mouth (HFM)
HFM is a common daycare disease involving an acute episode of fever, nausea, headache and blisters on the mouth, hands and feet. The condition is painful, with eating and drinking difficult and easily spread between children and even to parents. The virus is spread via bodily fluids (including faeces), touching the fluid inside the blisters and can become airborne from coughing and sneezing. Incubation period is 4-6 days and a child remains infectious until the blisters are gone. There is no cure for HFM, but you can try to make your child as comfortable as possible by keeping them well hydrated, offering soft foods and reducing pain and fever with pain relief.
The flu is an infection caused by the influenza A or B virus and is similar in symptoms to a very bad cold. It usually begins with a mix of symptoms such as fever, aches, headache, cough, sore throat, and/or running nose. The flu is spread though airborne particles when people cough/ sneeze or ingest particles that have been left on objects/ surfaces. Good hygiene can reduce the risk of contracting the flu as well as passing it to others. Most children recover within 7 days without any treatment. Ensure your child is kept comfortable with plenty of rest, fluids and management of pain and fever.
You should always seek medical attention if a child has:
- A high fever that lasts more than 48 hours
- Difficulty breathing or sudden wheezing
- Excessive sleepiness or confusion
- Severe vomiting and/or diarrhoea that continues beyond 24 hours
- Rashes that appear suddenly and spread quickly
- Blood in urine or vomit
- You are concerned in anyway about your child
FeverSmart temperature monitor review
The FeverSmart Temperature monitor is a nifty little piece of technology, allowing you to monitor your child temperature via a wireless monitor worn under the armpit and an app on your smart phone. Usually when your child is sick, getting them to sleep ( and stay asleep!) can be somewhat difficult, so waking them up to take their temperature ( cue thrashing around!!) is something I avoid at all costs. The FeverSmart App is easy to use, with real time, accurate body temp readings sent straight to my phone (with a range of 40 m if the base station is within 1.5 m of the armpit monitor). It clearly indicates if the temperature is high, low or in the normal range which is perfect for those not medically inclined ( or just super tired like myself!) .
It sends you a notification if the temp is high, so you can rest easy, knowing that you won’t miss a spike in temperature. You can use the app to track the temperature and show to your health professionals if escalation of care if needed (especially when you arrive at the hospital and your once barely responsive child is now happily playing and running around like a wild child).
You can also chart any medications given, symptoms present and any notes within the app and although you cant share the info to another phone, I ‘screenshotted’ it to my partner to let him know how our day had been going when we were battling our first fever with Mr 5 months. The adhesive to stick on the monitor is medical grade silicone and was easy to position under the arm pit (even my octopus/baby) and removal was quick and pain free. Initially I was worried about losing or running out of the adhesive strips, but the base station has a inbuilt compartment to hold spare ones, so I would recommend buying a packet of the strips (come in boxes of 4) and keeping them in there so you are not caught out.
The underarm monitor is lightweight, soft and pliable and did not cause my son any discomfort or irritation; it easily and discreetly fitted under his clothes. The monitor is splashproof but make sure you take it off for any showers/baths.
The Bluetooth transmission uses phone battery, so I made sure my phone was plugged in overnight so I didn’t miss any alerts and also remember to allow push notifications to ensure proper monitoring.
A great, easy to use product that takes some of the stress out of looking after a sick child.