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BABY AND CHILDHOOD INFECTIOUS DISEASES: TREATMENT OF FEVERS

Many simple measures are readily available, and certain forms of medication are recommended for many of these illnesses. It is worth having supplies of these medications on hand. Probably the most likely are those used for reducing fevers and lessening body aches and pains: the paracetamol and aspirin products. The usual dose for these is as follows:

•    For children under the age of six:

Paracetamol elixir: Dose varies from 2.5 to 5.0 mL. This may be repeated every four hours whilst symptoms persist. (Check the label for dosage, for the younger the child the less medication required.) Always shake mixtures before use, and give them with water. Do not give aspirin to children under the age of six years. Aspirin is a potent stomach irritant and may cause haemorrhage from the stomach lining.

For children six years of age and up to 12 years: Paracetamol elixir: 5 to 10 mL depending on age. Or 500-mg paracetamol tablets: one tablet every four hours. Or 300-mg aspirin tablets: one tablet every four hours (given after food).

For children twelve years of age and over: Double these doses (that is, an adult dose).

Medication (tablets) should be kept in air-tight bottles, or preferably in sealed blister packs or sealed tin-foil to preserve their potency. Always keep medication locked away from children, for an excessive intake of these medications may be fatal. (If an overdose is accidentally taken, refer to section on poisoning and act promptly. See Chapter 16.)

In most cases of infections, bed-rest for a few days and plenty of fluids are advisable. Fluids swish dead germs, unwanted debris and toxins from the system. Chilled water, cold lemonade and fruit juices are ideal; milk drinks are usually less attractive. Often the drinks are more palatable and useful if the stomach-settling powdered food, glucose D, is added: here the usual amount to add is 1 teaspoon (about 4 g) per glass of fluid.

Cool sponging and gentle drying of the skin with a soft towel is also refreshing, tends to reduce temperatures, and makes the patient, of whatever age, feel much better. Simple measures are often very effective.

At all times, give the minimum medication for the minimum amount of time. And refrain from self-medicating—always be guided by the doctor’s instructions, and always check with the doctor if you ever have any doubt. Remember, doctors are on your side, and will do their best to help effect a prompt cure. Most family doctors are happy to give as much advice as need be whenever illness strikes, especially when children are involved. After all, most doctors are parents too!

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