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A fever is a symptom, not a disease. Like all symptoms, for example cough or vomiting, a fever may be due to illnesses that are minor or serious. Fortunately, most fevers in children are due to infections that are minor and self-limiting.
Most fevers which are associated with illnesses range between 38.3°C and 40.0°C and last for 3 to 5 days. In general, the intensity of the fever does not relate to the severity of the illness. How your child behaves is what counts. Fever does not cause brain damage but may cause harm if it is more than 41.0°C. Fortunately, the brain's thermostat keeps untreated fevers below this level.
Your child must see a doctor if he or she is less than 3 months of age and has a fever.
Most fevers in children are due to infections that are minor and resolve on their own.
However, a low-grade fever does not necessarily mean that the illness is minor. Similarly, a high fever does not necessarily mean a serious illness. The effect of paracetamol on fever does not indicate the severity of the illness.
Your child has a fever if his or her body temperature is above:
If your child is less than 3 months old, you should not give him or her medication unless it is advised by your child's doctor. If your child is above 3 months of age, you may give him or her paracetamol in liquid, tablet or suppository (rectal) form. The doctor may prescribe ibuprofen if the fever is higher.
Do not give your child aspirin or any drugs containing aspirin for the fever unless prescribed by the doctor. Bringing down the temperature with medication does not take away the cause of the fever but may make your child feel more comfortable.
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. Your child may feel more comfortable if he or she is dressed in light clothing and is given lots of fluid to drink. Your child should also rest more.
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 of the symptoms listed below, go to the Children's Emergency immediately. This applies even if your child has just left the Children's Emergency and is taking medications. It is better to return for a false alarm than to wait too long.
Bring your child to the Children's Emergency immediately if your child: