Dr Ratna Sridjaja
Your child is running a fever if he or she:
Forehead temperature readings may not always be a reliable gauge for fever. Whenever in doubt, use another method to confirm the results. Always make sure to use a reliable thermometer too.
Speak with any one of our paediatricians about your child's health concerns today.
A high fever typically falls in the 38.9 – 40°C range.
Causes of a higher fever include the common cold or other viral infections, but this doesn't usually indicate a serious problem. Serious infections, on the contrary, may not cause a fever, and could present themselves as abnormally low body temperatures, especially in infants.
A fever may also cause chills as the body tries to generate additional heat, resulting in a higher body temperature. A child may also sweat as the body releases extra heat when the temperature starts to drop.
A fever is our body's natural defensive reaction to an infection caused by germs that have entered the body. With a higher body temperature, germs will find it harder to multiply as our immune system kills them off. Infections in children may not necessarily be bad as it can help build up their immune system.
Most of the time, your child's fever will be due to a self-resolving common virus that the immune system will fight.
Bacterial infections, on the other hand, may get worse if not treated with antibiotics.
An important point to note, is that the height of the fever does not correlate to the severity of the child's illness.
In most cases, a fever on its own is harmless and should subside in 3 – 5 days. Keep your child comfortable and let the body do its part in fighting the fever naturally. However, keep watch to make sure the fever does not escalate.
There are many ways you can manage the fever and keep your child comfortable:
Over-the-counter medications can be purchased without a prescription. Common options that are safe for children include paracetamol and ibuprofen.
Paracetamol is a pain reliever that also helps to bring down a fever. For children, it may come in the form of a suppository or syrup. Children below 2 months of age are not advised to take paracetamol unless advised by a doctor. Dosage is recommended based on your child's age and you should not give your child more than 4 doses in 24 hours.
Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that helps to treat inflammation, fever and pain. Children under 6 months of age should not be given ibuprofen.
For children above 6 months of age, formulations for children may come in drops, liquids or chewable tablets. You should follow the recommended doses, which are based on your child's weight. You should not give your child more than 4 doses in 24 hours.
Never give aspirin to children. It can result in a higher risk of Reye's syndrome, a rare but very serious condition that causes swelling in the liver and brain.
Infants under 2 months of age should not be given any medication for fever without first being evaluated by a doctor.
Children are more prone to getting fevers as their immune systems aren't fully developed. But do not be alarmed if your child's fever is higher at night. Body temperatures rise naturally in the evening, so a slight fever in the day can easily spike during sleep.
The general symptoms commonly associated with a fever can include:
These symptoms are usually not a cause for concern. Over-the-counter medication can help relieve them.
While the body is very adept at fighting infections, bring your child to see a medical professional if you note these warning signs:
The following symptoms are abnormal and could be a sign of a serious infection. Your child should receive immediate medical attention. Our A&E accident and emergency department provides immediate medical attention for urgent medical problems to patients 24 hours a day.
Read this article for more information on fever in babies and how to manage your infant’s fever.