Eldest Child 101: Managing Fever in The Home

Childhood illnesses are expected but when they come, they always come as a surprise. Fever is one of the most common symptoms associated with illness, and it is important to learn home management of fever to reduce the need for hospitalization.

How to Measure Temperature

The advent of digital thermometers has phased out the conventional mercury-based instrument, thus reducing the risk of poisoning in case of accidental breakage.  The three most common sites for taking the temperature using a common household thermometer are the armpits, under the tongue, and rectally through the anus.  Take note that although the other sites may make use of the same thermometer for measuring temperature, there is  usually a different and a separate thermometer for taking rectal temperature.  The normal body temperature ranges from 36.5 to 37.5 degrees Centigrade (97.5 to 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit).  Temperature that exceeds these values are indicative of fever, and must be managed immediately.

How to Give a Sponge Bath

Sponge baths are necessary to help reduce high temperatures and prevent seizures and chilling.  Although this method may shed off the extra degrees, this does not cure the source of the fever and is therefore only a supportive form of care to manage the symptoms and not the disease itself.

To give a sponge bath you will need three to five small towels, and a basin of tepid water.  Have the child lie down flat on the bed and make sure that his clothing is loose and comfortable.  Sleeveless undergarments and shorts are recommended. Soak the towels in the basin. Take one and squeeze it to remove excess water.  Pat the child’s skin with the damp towel, making sure to run along the forehead, the neck, the arms, the chest, and the back.  Remember, only pat the skin gently; do not rub the towel against it. Rubbing causes friction which yields heat and increases the fever. After you have done so, you may place the other damp towels on strategic places, namely: the forehead, the armpits, and the groin. These sites are relatively hotter than the rest of the body and must be prioritized, the forehead above all others.  Continue giving the sponge bath until the child’s temperature returns to a value within the normal range.

Increasing Fluid Intake

Making sure that the child drinks 2 to 3 liters of fluid a day can help manage high temperature. Water plays an important role in the body’s thermoregulation and prevents more serious problems brought about by dehydration following fever.  


Acetaminophen is the most commonly used drug to lower temperature spikes.  This comes in tablets and syrups.  Make sure to consult your doctor before administering any drug, and check the dosage and frequency before starting the regimen.

When to Seek Help

Fever can generally be managed at home.  However, if there are other signs and symptoms accompanying the fever, say, seizures and vomiting, then you definitely need to contact medical services.  Also, if the fever does not abate after three days, then it’s time to call your family physician.

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