Understand childhood fevers

child fever

You’ve touched your kid’s head: you understand that it is hot and clammy. The temperature is rising, and you know that a fever is about to start. Now, what does that mean? And what are the measures you can take to make your little one feel more comfortable?

What is fever?

A fever is defined as any temperature that is over 37.5°C. Fever can be considered as the first sign of your child fighting an illness. The rise in temperature is the body’s way of safeguarding your child’s system from infective agents, by making it impossible for them to survive.

Fever can be the result of a virus or sometimes a bacteria, although viral infections are more common. The temperature of your child can go up during teething, after receiving an immunization, or if they overheat from excess clothing or bedding.

How do I know my child has a fever?

Your child would try to tell you they have fever by crying – especially if they are too young to communicate. Grown up kids will tell you when they feel something is wrong, however you would have to ease their worries by telling them what’s happening and why.

To make sure it is fever, use a thermometer to see whether your child’s temperature is more than 37.5°C. There are three types of thermometers available in the market:

  • Digital display thermometer – these are kept under the armpit of your child, or under the tongue if the child is old enough to be able to balance it there
  • Tympanic digital thermometer – these are put inside the ear, and are easier to use than a thermometer. Tympanic thermometers are best suited in case of infants above the age of 6 months, older children and adults.
  • Fever strip – these are kept on your child’s forehead, though it is not as accurate as the digital ones

A fever is generally considered as any temperature that is over 37.5°C when measured under the arm. You should go see a doctor for fever above 38.5°C, or if their temperature starts becoming a matter of concern.

Temperature is not the only sign one should look out for. If a child is suffering from fever, they may also:

  • Be irritable
  • Appear hot and flushed
  • Shiver uncontrollably
  • Feel unwell
  • Vomit suddenly

When should I be concerned about fever?

Although fever doesn’t always mean one has serious illness, but still you can visit the doctor if:

  • Your child is aged under 6 months
  • Your child is vomiting and refuses to drink
  • Your child is in pain
  • Your child appears more sleepy than usual
  • The fever rises above 38.5°C
  • The fever lasts longer than a day
  • The fever is accompanied by other symptoms, such as a stiff neck, rash or problems breathing
  • If you feel worried or concerned

How to ease a fever

Most of the time fever is not that serious and it tends to go away by itself once the infection or illness clears up.

Keep your child comfy and hydrated next time they encounter fever. Throughout the day, and during any restless periods at night, give your little one small amounts of clear fluid, including water, diluted fruit juice or cordial.

Giving your child a simple pain reliever can give them relief and cure their fever symptoms.