As a mother of 3 children I know first hand how distressing it can be when they get sick, especially when they have a high temperature.
Everyday at the Practice we see children with fever and I thought it would be a great idea to write a blog on a few basics to help parents understand why children get fever, what are danger signs and what can one do to manage it at home.
Fever is defined as body temperature above 38 degrees Celcius. It is usually a sign of infection either viral (more common) or bacterial (less common).
A high fever does not necessarily mean that your child has serious illness, all it means is that they mostly likely have an infection and their immune system is responding appropriately by trying to fight either virus or bacteria by elevating the body's core temperature. In most cases fever is not harmful and infact a good sign of a healthy immune system.
When your child has a fever and is well, eating, drinking and playing there is no advantage in lowering their temperature, there is therefore no need to give them medication.
If you child appears uncomfortable, in pain or crying, it is reasonable to attempt to lower their fever by sponging them with a cool wet cloth, giving them plenty of fluids to drink (water or diluted juice) and if necessary medication such as paracetamol.
Most Fever in children is caused by viral infections and all that is required is time, rest, fluids and if needed medication such as paracetamol. When the infection is cleared body temperature will return to normal.
However it is important to mention a few red flags, if you child has a fever and any of the following it is important to seek medical help as soon as possible:
1. Stiff neck
2. Irritability to light or noise
3. A rash -especially a rash that does not disappear when you press on it
4. If they are drowsy and more sleepy than usual
5. If they are in severe pain despite having analgesia (e.g. paracetamol)
6. If they are not drinking and not having wet nappies
7. If they are struggling to breath
It is important to note that all children under 3 months with fever must see their doctor
Dr Dasha Fielder