Three-day feverThree-day fever can give parents a good scare because of the sudden rapid rise in children's fevers. In fact, however, this childhood illness is harmless. All about symptoms, causes, treatment and prevention of three-day fever.
Three-day fever, 3-day fever, exanthema subitum, roseola infantum, Sixth disease, Sixth disease
Three-day fever is a childhood illness that occurs primarily in children between 6 months and 3 years of age. Older children or adults almost never fall ill. Physicians refer to three-day fever as exanthema subitum or roseola infantum. Both names refer to the skin rash that sometimes develops after the 3 or 4 days of fever have subsided (see also symptoms). To older people, 3-day fever is also known as sixth disease.
Three-day fever is a highly contagious infection caused by certain herpes viruses (see Causes). Because of the high prevalence of these viruses, prevention is virtually impossible. Fortunately, three-day fever is almost always a harmless childhood illness with no risk of serious complications. However, febrile convulsions may occur. In this case, the child should be examined by a doctor. As a rule, three-day fever is completely over after one week. After the initial infection, the disease does not break out again in the vast majority of cases. Three-day fever is a very common. A widespread childhood illness worldwide. Nearly all children become infected by the 3rd day of fever. completed year of life. However, this does not necessarily result in a symptomatic course. Three-day fever in its typical form is estimated to break out in about half of the children. In about 10 percent of these courses, febrile convulsions occur.
When symptoms of three-day fever develop, the illness begins after an incubation period (period between infection and the appearance of the first symptoms) of about 2 weeks without prior warning signs. Children who are still healthy suddenly develop a rapidly rising fever that can reach 41 degrees Celsius. This fever lasts 3 to 4 days and then passes as quickly as it came on.
In most cases of three-day fever, a red rash develops within hours after the fever subsides. Typically, the rash is very small, sometimes slightly raised. It mainly affects the neck and upper body, but can also spread to the limbs and the head and face. Unlike other childhood diseases with exanthema, such as measles or chickenpox, the rash in three-day fever is usually not itchy. Similar to the fever, the rash fades away after 2 to 3 days just as suddenly as it appeared.
Even if three-day fever is harmless: the course of the disease can give parents quite a scare. On the one hand, the fever could be caused by a serious illness. This concern usually dissipates when the fever subsides, the rash begins – and thus the cause is clear. On the other hand, three-day fever is a heavy burden for many children. They appear very sick and tired. Sometimes there is also diarrhea and vomiting. Other symptoms of three-day fever include swollen lymph nodes and throat inflammation. The disease exhausts some children so much that they often need a week's rest even after the symptoms have subsided.
Complication: febrile convulsions
In 10 percent of children with three-day fever, febrile convulsions occur. These convulsions seem overly alarming, but are much less severe in otherwise healthy children than they appear to be. Febrile convulsions sometimes look like epileptic seizures. Unlike epileptic seizures (which originate in the brain), febrile convulsions are a result of the rapid onset of fever. They usually pass within a maximum of 15 minutes.
At the beginning of a febrile seizure children are often strikingly pale. They roll their eyes. Are hardly responsive. Sometimes lose consciousness. Then the body first stiffens, then convulses in seizures. Subsequently, the entire musculature becomes flaccid. Sometimes the typical twitching also remain absent. Muscle relaxation sets in directly.
Responding correctly to febrile convulsions
Febrile convulsions have a dramatic effect. Nevertheless, parents or. Helpers remain calm. In order to avoid injuries, the children should be held in the arms. Fresh air ensures that breathing is impaired as little as possible. After a febrile seizure, children should definitely be examined by a doctor to rule out serious causes. If necessary, physicians can prescribe medications that can be used to abbreviate another febrile convulsion.
The cause of three-day fever is an infection with herpes viruses. There is a whole range of types of the herpes viruses. Triggers of the three-day fever are the human herpes viruses (HHV) of types 6 and 7. HHV 6 is blamed for up to 90 percent of infections with three-day fever. The proportion of HHV7 is given in various studies as 10 to 30 percent.
Based on current research, HHV6 appears to cause three-day fever primarily in children between 9 and 12 months of age. In older children, from age 2. The HHV7 variant is detected with above-average frequency during the second year of life.
The herpes viruses are transmitted primarily through droplet infections, i.e. by inhaling the pathogens.
The diagnosis of three-day fever cannot be made unequivocally during the fever phase. Only the subsiding of the fever after 3 to 4 days. The skin rash secure the diagnosis. As a rule, therefore, pediatricians wait for this period in otherwise healthy children. If other causes of the fever are suspected, diagnostic procedures such as urine or blood tests are used as needed.
Causal treatment of three-day fever is not possible. Therapy is therefore limited to alleviating the symptoms and avoiding complications. The immune system takes care of the defense against herpes viruses. It forms antibodies during the course of infection that create lifelong immunity to the causative viruses. In the case of a strongly reduced defense system, however, as for example after bone marrow transplantations, a reactivation of the viruses remaining otherwise mute in the body is possible.
To reduce the fever, lukewarm calf compresses are suitable. If this is not sufficient, suppositories with fever-reducing active ingredients such as ibuprofen and paracetamol in child-friendly doses are a good alternative.
The smaller the child, the greater is usually the loss of fluids due to the fever. Therefore, children with three-day fever should be sure to drink plenty of fluids. Unsweetened teas with elderberry, lemon balm or chamomile are recommended.
The chances of recovery from three-day fever are very good. Almost always the disease passes by itself within a maximum of 2 weeks. Even febrile convulsions almost never lead to serious complications.
Safe prevention of three-day fever is not possible because the viruses that cause it are widespread worldwide and highly contagious. There is no vaccination against three-day fever. It is also not to be expected, since the risks of infections are so small.