Signs & Symptoms
A fever in which a temperature taken by mouth that is higher than 37.5 0C in someone who has been resting. Axiliary (armpit) temperature over 37.3 0C and aural (ear) temperature over 37.80C are considered as fever.
What causes it
Most fevers in children are due to infections that are minor and that cure themselves.
About the condition
Fever is a symptom, not a disease. Like all symptoms (for example, cough or vomiting), fever may be due to illnesses that are minor or serious, or sometimes life-threatening.
Most fever with viral illnesses range between 38.3 0C to 40 0C and last for 3 to 5 days. In general, the height of the fever does not relate to the seriousness of the illness. How sick your child acts is what counts. Fever does not cause brain damage.
Fever may cause harm if it is more than 41 0C.
Fortunately, the brain's thermostat keeps untreated fevers below this level.
Your child must see a doctor if he/she is less than 3 months of age and has fever.
When should I bring my child back to the emergency department?
Sometimes children who have had a minor illness develop a more serious infection later. If your child seems to be getting sicker and has any one of the following symptoms, return immediately to the Children's Emergency, even if you have just left the department and even if your child is taking medications (drugs). It is better to return for a false alarm than to wait too long.
Return to the Children's Emergency immediately if:
- You have difficulty waking your child. (Fever may make children want to sleep more, but they should awaken easily and be able to interact with their parents.)
- Your child seems confused or delirious.
- Your child does not use an arm or a leg normally, or refuses to stand or put weight on his or her legs.
- Your child has problems breathing
- Your child develops small purple spots on the skin (that may look like bruises).
- Your child cries constantly and you cannot settle him or her.
- Your child's skin colour does not look right or becomes grey, pale or blue.
- Your child has a fit (seizure/convulsion).
Return to your child's doctor or to the emergency room as soon as you can if:
- Your child develops new symptoms
- Your child cries when he or she goes to the bathroom, or the urine smells bad as he/she may have a urine infection.
A high fever does not necessarily mean a serious illness
A low-grade fever does not necessarily mean that the illness is minor.
The fact that the fever does not come down with paracetamol does not necessarily mean the illness is serious.
If you have any concerns about any changes in your child after you have left the Children's Emergency please call the department at 6772 2555.
Diagnosis and Treatment Options
- If child is less than 3 months of age, he/she should not be given fever medication unless prescribed by doctor.
- If child is over 3 months of age, child may be given paracetamol in liquid, tablet, or suppository (rectal) form.
- Doctors may also prescribe another medicine (ibuprofen) if the fever is higher.
- Bringing down the temperature with medication does not take away the cause of the fever, but may make your child feel more comfortable.
- Child should not be given child aspirin (ASA) for the fever, or any other drugs containing aspirin, unless instructed by Doctors.
- Your child may feel more comfortable if dressed in light clothing and given lots of fluids to drink. Your child should also rest more.
- If your child's temperature remains over 400C, it may be helpful to sponge bathe your child. A sponge bath should be done in a warm room with warm water. Using a damp towel, gently rub the entire body. Your child should feel damp but not dripping wet. Do not use a fan or ice or cold water, and do not chill your child.
- Take your child's temperature in the morning, at bedtime, and every 4 hours during the day, or more often if your child looks ill.