While the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been declared free of the Zika virus, along with other Gulf countries, it is Dengue fever that has become the disease that is on the top of the watch list for the Ministry of Health in the country. According to the Ministry of Health Contagious Diseases Director General Prof. Hayel Al-Abdali, “The Kingdom recorded 6,000 cases of dengue fever in 2015. Dengue fever is a bigger threat to the Kingdom than the Zika virus. Both diseases are transmitted through the bite of Aedes Aegypti mosquito and both have the same symptoms.” Health warnings such as these are adequate reason to watch out for symptoms of fever in your child.
Dealing with Fever in Children
Fevers and fever-like symptoms are common in growing children. A child with a fever will have a body temperature that is above 39°C. Usually, you can spot a fever if your child's skin feels hotter to the touch than normal. The forehead is usually the best place to check. Alternatively, the child may also have a red or flushed face or the skin may feel sweaty and damp. To be on the safer side, it is always better to rely on a digital thermometer. For children below the age of five, place the thermometer in the armpit.
A fever is usually caused by infections by viruses or germs. Expect your child's appetite to be absent or reduced. However, give the child plenty of fluids to counteract dehydration. Fevers need to be closely monitored and you should keep checking your child's body temperature from time to time, especially at night. If your child complains of body or head ache, you can give them ibuprofen. Using a cold sponge or cold cloth compress is not advisable, as it might reduce the body's heat loss. Make sure the room is well-ventilated without any draft or cold wind blowing in the child's direction.
When to Consult a Doctor?
If the infection is serious, the fever will not come down despite your efforts. In such cases, your child may also exhibit additional symptoms, such as difficulty in breathing, headaches or even cramps and convulsions. If your child shows symptoms that worry you or if your child is in extreme discomfort, do not waste time and contact a doctor immediately.
While speaking to your doctor, expect to be questioned about your child's symptoms, duration of the fever and any additional symptoms. The common tests and observations made by doctors include temperature readings, pulse and breathing checks, level of body fluid and blood pressure. The child's urine sample may also be required for testing.
Serious fevers like that caused by the dengue virus can be mistaken for a mild flu or viral infection. If undetected, the fever may suddenly climb, accompanied by a severe headache and pain behind the eyes, a feeling of fatigue and pain in the joints and muscles, and vomiting. The final stages are characterized by a skin rash and bleeding from the nose and gums of the teeth.
Clearly a fever in children might be a normal part of growing up but the importance of preventing it from increasing cannot be stressed enough.