Childhood Fevers

The body temperature varies throughout the day and depends on physical activity and surrounding weather or temperature.  The normal temperature in adults is between 36.8-37.7 C and infants is between 36.5-38 C.  Fever is defined as having a temperature over 38.0 C (or 100.4 F).  Fever is the normal body’s response to fighting infections like coughs and colds.  If the child is eating, drinking or playing normally, the fever usually passes without problems after 3-4 days.

Common Causes for Childhood Fevers

  • Upper Respiratory Tract Infection (URTI) which is the common cold where the child has stuffy, runny nose, cough and sore throat
  • Influenza (known as flu) where there is runny nose, cough, sore throat with muscle ache, tiredness and chills
  • Ear infection
  • Tonsillitis
  • Gastroenteritis with diarrhoea, vomiting and stomach ache
  • Hand-Foot Mouth Disease (HFMD) with characteristic red spots on hands, feet and mouth
  • Dengue fever with headache, rash, muscle and joint aches
  • Urinary tract infection

Click to view Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

How to Measure your Child’s Temperature

Use a thermometer suitable for your child’s age and check regularly to monitor the condition.

  • Axillary (armpit) digital thermometer if less than 4 weeks old
  • Axillary (armpit) digital or Tympanic infrared (ear) thermometer if older than 4 weeks

What you can do to help your child feel more comfortable

DO give plenty of fluids to drink

DO check on your child regularly including throughout the night

DO give anti-pyretics such as Paracetamol if the child is unwell

DO use a syringe to measure the medicine accurately (to prevent overdose)

DO feed them softer and easier to digest foods

DO dress your child in thinner comfortable clothes and stay in a cool room

DO give some tepid sponging on the forehead, arms and legs

DON’T give ASPIRIN to children

DON’T cover with thick blankets or excess clothing

DON’T wake your child up to take medication

Click to view KK Women’s and Children Hospital video on Childhood fever

Danger signs where you MUST see a doctor as soon as possible include;

  • Any child younger than 3 months with fever.
  • Fever which lasts more than 5 days
  • Fever is higher than 40 C (> 104 F)
  • Fever which does not respond to medication
  • There is a non-blanching rash which does not fade when pressed with a glass (known as the ‘glass test’) or there are red spots on the body, hands or feet
  • The hands or feet are unusually cold or looking pale and blue
  • The child appears to be getting worse
  • The child is sensitive to light or has some neck stiffness
  • The child is quiet or drowsy, not drinking / eating, not like him or her normal self or interested in playing
  • The child is agitated and does not stop crying
  • The child has difficulty breathing or feeling restless
  • The child has not passed urine for a long time (signs of dehydration)
  • The child has a fit or seizure

See your doctor or child specialist if your child has fever which is not improving

Disclaimer. TELEME blog posts contains general information about health conditions and treatments. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. 

If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

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