Additional MetroHealth Facilities
Fever in Children
Questions about your child's fever?
MetroHealth Lakewood's Doctor Pearlman has the answers
Children have fevers for many reasons. More often than not, they are treatable by over-the-counter medications and don't require extensive medical intervention. And while self-help books may offer calming advice, parents can be fearful when their child has a fever, worrying that it may signal something more than a common viral infection. MetroHealth pediatrician Fred Pearlman, DO, understands that fear.
"The number one call that pediatricians get is fever,'' says Dr. Pearlman, who is one of two pediatricians who see patients at the MetroHealth Lakewood Health Center. "When a child has a fever, and parents are worried, I prefer that they call me. A lot of times, a simple two- to five-minute talk with the parents can save them from having to go to the emergency room,'' where they can spend most of their night and be saddled with high medical bills afterward.
Fever is the body's reaction to an infection, which causes the body to reset the temperature to a higher level to help fight the infection. Pearlman counsels parents to not panic when there is a fever. Instead, be prepared by having some tools at hand.
"I think it's important that parents have a thermometer at home, one that beeps w/in a minute and can perform an under-arm temperature,'' says Dr. Pearlman. ""Don't feel the head to determine what the fever is because you can't.'' And before taking that temperature, be certain that the child isn't dressed too warmly or over-covered. "There should be no more than one layer of clothing.''
The accepted definition of low-grade, middle-grade and high-grade fevers depends on the age of the patient, says Dr. Pearlman. Also important are any accompanying symptoms, such as a runny nose, a harsh cough, nausea and vomiting, a sore throat, a rash or rapid breathing. While parenting books and medical Web sites offer some advice, nothing is more comforting to a worried parent than speaking directly with their child's doctor. Dr. Pearlman works with parents to take the guesswork out of treating fevers at home.
Dr. Pearlman often suggests trying Motrin or Tylenol to bring down fevers. Parents also need to keep an eye on whether or not the child is becoming dehydrated, particularly if there is diarrhea involved. "If the child is drinking okay, is wetting their diaper (or going to the bathroom if older) and their tongue is moist, parents don't need to push liquids,'' says Dr. Pearlman. And if the child is vomiting, wait about one hour before trying clear liquids. For a child under 1 year, he suggests Pedialyte; for those older, something such as a clear juice or flat ginger ale.
Dr. Pearlman also recommends that parents call him the following day to let him know how their child is doing. Same-day sick appointments are available at the MetroHealth Lakewood Health Center.
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