Fever in Children
Running a fever is the body’s natural response when fighting an infection. It is a presenting symptom that turns on the body’s immune system, rather than a disease. A fever temperature ranging between 37.5 to 40 degrees Celsius is not necessarily harmful. In general, the height of the temperature does not relate to the severity of the illness.
Most fevers are caused by viral illnesses, and even fewer are caused by bacterial illnesses. Viral infections typically include colds and flu and cannot be cured by antibiotics. A bacterial infection may follow after a viral infection, usually affecting the sinuses, lungs or ears, and will require antibiotics to cure.
What Medicines should I Give My Child for Fever?
Use Paracetamol only if your child’s temperature is above 37.5 degrees Celsius and preferably if your child is feeling discomfort from the fever. Be sure to administer the correct dosage of medication according to your child’s weight every 4 to 6 hourly.
If inadequate medication is given, your child’s temperature will not be reduced. Unless advised by a doctor, Brufen can be used for children 6 months and above with a fever of over 38.5 degrees Celsius, to be taken preferably after food. The effect will usually bring the temperature down for 6 to 8 hours, making it more effective than Paracetamol.
Are There Other Ways to Bring Down a Fever?
- Encourage fluid intake to ensure your child stays hydrated
- Dress your child in light clothing
- Ensure the indoor temperature is kept cool and room is well-ventilated
- If the temperature persists, try tepid sponging in between the medication dosages:
- Use lukewarm tap water for sponging (do not use iced water)
- Remove clothing and cover the child with a towel
- Expose only the sponged area at any one time, dab dry after
- Apply the compress over the child’s forehead, nape of neck, armpits and groin
- Ensure there is no strong wind blowing during the sponging
- Do not sponge the child for more than 30 minutes
- Stop if the child starts to shiver or turn blue
When should I Seek Medical Treatment for My Child?
Consult a doctor if your infant or child is:
- If fever has been ongoing for 3-5 days or more
- Under 3 months old but has a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius and above
- Under 3 years old but has a temperature of 40 degrees Celsius and above
- Shortness of breath
- Severe cough
- Audible noisy breathing
- Looks pale / off-colour
- Severe abdominal pain
- Persistent vomiting
- Bloody stools
- Worsening abdominal distension
- Drowsiness, lethargy or irritability
- Seizures / fits
- Poor feeding (especially if less than 50% of usual feeding)
- Rashes which appear like tiny bruises