Fever is a raised body temperature and is most commonly due to a viral infection. A child has a fever when his/her temperature is above 37.50C if you take it in the mouth or ear, or above 370C under the arm.
Is fever dangerous? Fever up to 410C is relatively harmless in most patients. Fever is actually good for you as it helps the body fight infection and recover more quickly. Febrile convulsions occur in 3-4% of children from 6 months to 5 years but are rarely harmful.
It is the underlying condition which may be dangerous, not the fever. Some cases are due to serious bacterial infections, such as pneumonia or meningitis especially under 2 months.
When should fever be treated?
Most doctors do not usually advise medication for fever, unless the child is distressed or in pain, or the fever is very high. Finding and treating the cause of the fever is more important. Treatment of fever does not prevent febrile fits.
How is fever treated?
When treatment is required, paracetamol is usually given up to 4-hourly, for children over 1 month. Ibuprofen is also used, but aspirin should never be given to children.
Other measures include small, frequent drinks, removing excessive clothing, rest and staying in a cool room.
Other symptoms such as irritability, discomfort, or pain from a sore throat or headache can be treated with paracetamol.
When should I see the doctor?
Come in if you are worried or if your child:
- Is under 6 months of age.
- Looks 'sick' or is feeding poorly.
- Has a stiff neck or light hurts the eyes.
- Has purple spots on the skin, difficulty breathing or cries inconsolably.
- Refuses to drink or vomits persistently.
- Is lethargic or difficult to wake.
- Has a temperature over 390C.
- Shows no improvement in 24-48 hrs
Please note this information was correct at time of printing.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.