Hospitals & Hooplas: Cooling a temperature

My poorly little boy, in the hospital, with his teddy.

My poorly little boy, in the hospital, with his teddy.

Well, the past weekend has certainly been eventful for us in the Shearsmith household, with a trip through to the Children’s ward on Friday night after we discovered Toby wasn’t just teething, but in fact had a super high temperature of 40C and was dribbling so much thanks to a bout of mild tonsillitis and had bronchitis to boot!

The poor little guy had to have chest x-rays and all sorts of prodding and poking, but was far braver than I was!

Toby gets what is known as Tachycardia when he has a high temperature. Apparently this is very common in young children, up to the age of 12 months and simply means that he gets a very fast heart rate and pulse. The fact that he is doing it now at 14 months is a bit more concerning, but is still not too unusual. We have now had a couple of late night stops at the children’s ward thanks to this, as it is important that he is checked out and doesn’t have any additional complications, so despite the fact that it isn’t unusual, it is still a huge worry.

I have learnt, thanks to some wonderful medical practitioners, the best way to calm tachycardia bought on by a high temperature, is to reduce the temperature (which obviously they will help you do at the hospital) so I have put together a few top tips that I have found incredibly helpful in cooling the boys temperatures, and this has been known to calm Toby’s heart rate right down… although we still go to the Doctor and usually on to the hospital, just to be safe!

  • A lukewarm bath – this is by no means a cold bath, but a bath that is just lukewarm enough to the skin is a great way to calm down a temperature. I really do stress that a bath should never be cold, as it is likely to cause shivering which can bump up a temperature or stress the body. If you don’t want to do a full bath, a moist cool towel to the forehead and feet is another great way to cool kids off.

  • Ice lollys – this is almost always a winner, and you don’t have to have a flavoured one if your little one has vomiting too, just freeze plain water in a lolly pop maker (I have written about my personal favourite here) and let the child suck on it. It reduces temperatures, helps teething and can help with hydration to a degree if they are struggling to drink water.

  • Strip, strip, strip – Stripping down to a nappy or pants is also a great thing to do to reduce a temperature. Toby spent the majority of Friday night waltzing around in his nappy, I was nervous it was going to give him a cold, but quite the opposite it really perked him up (… or was that the rather beautiful Doctor he took to so well??). Our natural instinct is to bundle our children up and hold them, but it can be the worst thing we can do, try to think hot summer day on the beach, that is how they are feeling internally.

  • Follow the Doctor’s instructions for temperature reduction medication – such as paracetamol and ibuprofen. Quite often once your child has been weighed they can be given a higher or lower dosage of medicine than you originally thought, go with what your doctor has advised. You can also give paracetamol and ibuprofen intermittently.

  • Keep your room cool – Don’t over heat the room, there is no point in having a child in their nappy trying to cool of if you have a really warm room. This is something we struggle with as I like my house to be warm (between 22 and 24C) and it generally always is, so when one of the boys has a temperature we go right back down to a cool temperature (18-19C) and everyone else has to grab a cardigan!

I know a lot of these sound like common sense, but I’m afraid when our kids are unwell, our natural instinct is to keep them wrapped up and protected in our arms!

I also thought it might be useful to add a couple of the things that I always take with me if I need to make that hospital dash:

  • Lip balm – I always take lip balm or something to that effect. Lips get dry when dehydration sets in, so f you are unable to get little one to drink this can help, or if they are refusing to allow you to let them go for a second then you may want something to help your lips and stop you getting dry.

  • A bottle of water – I know you can get water left, right and centre in a hospital, but will your child let you put them in the cot to get it? Can you drink a glass of water if they are wriggling in your arms? I struggled to leave the room with Toby yesterday and if I was panicked that if I did we might miss the nurse or doctor, or give him a chill. Better to eliminate the worry and just have a bottle of water in your bag!

  • A change of clothes for you and them – just in case you have to stay over night. I remember Reuben having something very similar to Toby when he was younger and we were told we might have to stay overnight. I hadn’t thought we would as we had gone in to hospital at about 10:30am, so surely we’d be home for bed? Well we were but not until 11pm, and Reuben was still in his clothes, which meant gingerly trying to undress and re-dress him for bed. It was boxing day. Not fun.

  • A phone charger and phone – especially if you aren’t with your partner. That way you can keep in touch with them and let them know how things are. This is also a must for Mama’s with more than one child, it will drive you insane to not be able to check on your little ones at the drop of a hat.

I realise if its a mad dash in an ambulance then all of this goes out the window, but if it isn’t it take 30 seconds and will be so much easier for you in the long run.

I hope this all helps if you ever find yourselves in the position to have a very poorly tot, always go to your doctor if you are in doubt, and if you can’t get to them? Call them out, they will come for an infant/child.

Harriet x

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