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What to expect and what you can do
If you're worried your child may have a fever, don’t be alarmed. An elevated temperature is common when your child is ill and chances are that it’s not serious.
To be on the safe side, however, you’ll want to learn about what may be causing your child’s fever, how to reduce their temperature and when to get medical attention.
1. Their skin feels hot Does their forehead, tummy or back feel overly warm?
2. Their cheeks are pink Do they look unusually flushed or red-faced?
3. They’re sweaty Does their skin feel sweaty for no reason, or clammy?
How can I tell if my child has a fever?
The quickest way to determine whether your child has a fever is to take their temperature. You may have a thermal (forehead) or digital ear thermometer, which are suitable for older children and adults. If they’re under five years old, however, it’s best to take it in their armpit.
Your child’s normal temperature naturally fluctuates slightly but if it goes higher than 37.5°C then, yes, your little one has a fever.
What are other signs of fever in toddlers and children?
Don’t have a thermometer handy? No worries, there are several other tell-tale signs of fever in children. When your kid’s got a fever, you’re likely to see changes in their mood and behaviour that can signal to you that something isn’t quite right.
While every child is unique, and you know your child best, here are some other common symptoms when a child has a fever.
What can cause a high temperature or fever in children?
Fever is the body’s natural way of fighting an infection. It’s likely they’ve just caught the flu or another common childhood illness such as an ear infection. While rare, a fever can also be caused by a more serious infection like meningitis. Call your doctor immediately if you spot other symptoms, such as a stiff neck, vomiting, diarrhoea or a rash.
As a parent, you’re naturally worried, and it’s never nice to witness your child in discomfort, but rest reassured that the fever itself is not harmful. Your child’s temperature will return to normal once the underlying illness is treated. Until then, keep a close eye on them and do your best to make them comfortable. Don’t hesitate to consult a doctor if you’re concerned or feel something isn’t right.
A normal temperature for children is about 36.4°C to 37.2 °C. What is considered ‘normal’ is not a specific number but a range. Your child’s body temperature will fluctuate slightly in response to environmental factors like the room temperature or the weather. Your child may feel also warmer for the simple reason that they have a woolly jumper on.
There are several home remedies (such as time, rest and loving care are usually the best remedies) that can help bring your child’s temperature back down so they’re more comfortable. Always defer to your doctor’s advice. You may be able to use over-the-counter pain-relief medicines containing paracetamol to help bring down your child’s fever.
How can I reduce my child’s fever?
To help keep your child comfortable when they have a fever, there are a few things you can try:
If your infant is less than three months old and is showing signs of illness or has a fever, bring them to the attention of your paediatrician.
If your child’s fever doesn’t improve or worsens, or if they develop additional symptoms, contact their doctor and have them checked. You’re the expert when it comes to your kid, so you should always trust your instincts if they’re telling you that something is wrong.
High fever in children can be a medical emergency, so seek urgent medical advice if your child has any of the following symptoms.