Once a child has fever, it simply signifies that the body increased its temperature in an attempt to fight off a particular disease process or infection. Although this bodily mechanism is considered beneficial to the body, many still worry and chances are if the child repeatedly experiences one when you believe that he/she is getting better, it can increase the concern. When it comes to intermittent fever, it is often an indication of a serious underlying condition. It is best to be familiar with the signs and symptoms of intermittent fever among children so that proper action can be taken when needed.
If a child has intermittent fever, the child will experience an elevated temperature over 38 degrees C or 100.4 degrees F every so often. After a period of high temperature, it will return to the normal range for a time.
The frequency and time span of the fever and the degree of fluctuation can be used to determine whether or not it is intermittent. A continuous fever maintains a constant temperature over a 24-hour period without fluctuating more than 1 degree C or 1.8 degrees F.
If the child is suffering from a remittent fever, the temperature tends to fluctuate more than 2 degrees Celsius or 3.6 degrees F each day. It eventually returns to a baseline temperature between each episode but not quite to normal.
Intermittent fever is slightly complex. The fever of the child only persists for a few hours at a time and then return to normal. In case the fever occurs daily, it is called as Quotidian fever. If it occurs every other day, it is called as Tertian fever. In case it only occurs once every 3 days, it is called Quartan fever. In certain conditions, the fever can even vanish for a week or more before returning again.
Once the core temperature of the body increases, it can affect the vital signs, thus there are other evident changes. The heart rate of the child will increase by 10 beats per minute for every degree F. Take note that it is normal for the blood pressure and breathing rate to also increase during this period.
In case the child has intermittent fever, it can indicate that he/she has a serious condition or disease and the fever is just a symptom.
- One condition that is marked by intermittent fever is the PFAPA Syndrome which typically affects children below 5 years of age. This condition is characterized by fever that recurs every 3-4 weeks.
- Malaria is usually accompanied by fever that recurs every 2nd to 3rd day.
- Rat Bite Fever is characterized by periodic fever that occurs every 3-5 days.
- Hodgkin’s disease is characterized by intermittent fever but it is rare among children below 5 years old.
- Cyclic neutropenia or Schultz’s disease has fever that occurs every 3 weeks.