Q: Good evening doctor. Thanks for enlightening us on health issues. Please ma’am, how long does teething pain last? Is there any drug for it? what are the symptoms of teething . My baby is 6 months old and is running temperature, cough and catarrh I don’t know if he’s preparing for teeth. Thanks so much ma’am
A: It is thought that the inflammation of the gum around the area where the tooth will erupt from may cause low grade fever which is why the babies may experience some fever.
Another significant symptom believed to be associated with teething is diarrhea. There’s no conclusive research that has shown any link between the process of erupting a tooth and diarrhoea. If anything, we’ve found out that this is the same period when children start picking up things and of course the natural ‘tourist’ destination for anything they pick up, is their mouths! J What happens? When they pick up dirty stuff and suck on it, it would ultimately lead to diarrhoea.
So, more than ever, that’s a time to be watchful and ensure that the children are not stuff their mouths with rubbish and ensure their toys are cleaned.
Having said that, how can I help my baby through teething what with the itch and discomfort they feel around the ‘erupting tooth’ area? Even the drooling? Well, here are a few things you could do:
Rub over the teething area with your finger (thoroughly scrubbed and clean, of course :D) or use a finger covered with clean gauze or even the baby’s wash cloth. If this is cool to touch, this is even better. Massage the teething area with this…it helps to soothe the discomfort.
Teething rings are great ideas too and you could also refrigerate these to provide more comfort. Please do not freeze them.
Clean off the drooling saliva as this could cause irritation around the baby’s mouth, worsening his crankiness.
Over the counter analgesics like paracetamol could also be helpful provided it’s given in the appropriate dose for the baby’s age. This will also help with the fever. Please avoid Aspirin as it causes a disease called Reye’s syndrome.
Several studies have been conducted on the efficacy of gripe water though it is liberally used by parents and doctors alike, and it has not really been found to be particularly useful in teething. Older formulae contained alcohol which were thought to be perhaps, responsible for the soothing effect it had. Other components like the herbs etc may not go down well with all children.
If the fever continues, please take the baby to see the doctor to rule out other causes of fever. Dehydration is the more critical issue. If your baby is still stooling, fluid needs to be replaced. Please take him in to see his doctor to determine if the fluid loss is serious enough to warrant replacement. In the meantime, keep breastfeeding.
Cough and catrarrh are not typically associated with teething. If your baby’s cough is due to a cold, you really don’t need to give your baby any drug. A cold is a viral infection which will run its course before it stops. And so, with or without drugs, a cold will go. It would usually last for about a week to 10 days and then disappear. Most people quickly administer antibiotics to their babies without even consulting a doctor. There’s no need for antibiotics for a viral infection. Indeed, taking antibiotics when they are not needed leads to antibiotic resistance where the antibiotics can no longer properly do their jobs when they are really needed to fight infections.
Now, what can you do in the mean time:
Let your baby sleep in your arms or in a semi-upright position.
You can prop him up with lots of pillows at night.
Offer your baby fluids and if there is congestion in the nose, use a saline spray. You can ask your doctor or pharmacist for this.
An air humidifier also moistens the air and makes it easier for your baby to breath. If you don’t have this, you can let your baby breath in steam from a hot shower.
A suction bulb can also help remove mucous from your baby’s nose. You can ask for one in the hospital or a pharmacy.
Please see your baby’s doctor if this cough continues and/or your baby develops a fever and this cough lasts more than 2 weeks. If your baby also has difficulty breathing, cannot breath or feed, you should also see his/her doctor.
Have a great night, everyone J