created by David Martin
“My child feels hot, is it fever? How could I bring the temperature down? Should I give medication? Should I go to our doctor immediately?”
Having an unwell child could naturally lead parents to feel anxious. In case of a fever, a common symptom in young children, parents usually try to suppress it by administering antipyretics, antibiotics or home remedies. Many decide to visit their pediatrician the moment the child’s temperature rises. But should parents feel anxious in such cases? Does a fever require medication?
Having a fever is a healthy body reaction to fighting its underlying causes. Unfortunately, many parents are not aware of this fact and consider fever to be a disease instead of a symptom and an effective response against the infecting agent. Many still believe in a fever’s potential harm, such as brain damage. Naturally, a parent would try to prevent harm by taking any measure they perceive as necessary. However, it is important to let a fever run its course and do its job – suppressing it will not solve the underlying problem. Antipyretics such as paracetamol can be useful in case of pain or discomfort but should be used sparingly; antibiotics should be a last resort, prescribed by a doctor. As long as there are no danger signs that require a contact with doctor, the best option usually is rest, loving care and natural resources such as teas or body compresses (with the aim to increase comfort and not with the aim to reduce the temperature, i.e. no cold compresses).
Over time, practitioners and researchers have observed a need for more education regarding fever, as many parents (and health care staff) have wrong perceptions about it, its benefits, ways to handle it, the correct use of medication, etc. With this intention in mind, a team of pediatricians, parents, psychologists, pedagogues and IT specialists developed the FeverApp registry, to improve the understanding of parental fever management and provide guideline-based information. The “FeverApp” was developed as the means of delivering the registry’s objectives, which are as following:
- Enable parents to document what they observe and undertake in case of a fever,
- Enable science to learn from this documentation,
- Offer parents and caregivers up-to-date information (via a multimedia Info Library within the app),
- Help parents and caregivers recognise when they need to consult a doctor and when they can cozily take care of the child at home,
- Help parents to reduce the use of antipyretics and antibiotics and only use them when they are really necessary,
- Reduce antibiotic resistance,
- Reduce the side effects of medicines,
- Harness the body’s own immunologic resources, such as fever.
As the communication and sharing of information between pediatricians and parents is very important, the FeverApp is accessible through participating outpatient clinics, where parents are recommended to use the app for fever episodes documentation and to access FeverApp’s multimedia library for relevant information. Interested outpatient clinics can always request to participate.
Note: The FeverApp Registry’s development is funded by the German Ministry of Science and Education (BMBF).