Fever in children
A fever is the body’s natural response to infection or illness. Fevers stimulate the immune system and help the body to ward off infection. You can measure your child’s temperature with a thermometer (from the ear or mouth if the child is over five, or fom under the armpit if younger) – normal body temperature for a child is around 37°C. A fever is classed as the body’s temperature being higher than the usual, and over 37.5 °C.
If your child is under three months of age and has a temperature of 38°C or higher, or is under six months of age and has a temperature of 39°C or higher, it is recommended you see a doctor urgently.
Some common and treatable causes of fever include:
• viral infections, such as colds and flu, coughs, diarrhoea, ear infections, chest infections
• bacterial infections of the lungs and kidneys, septicaemia, meningitis
• childhood diseases such as measles, mumps, chickenpox, whooping cough
You can help by giving your child plenty of liquids to drink to prevent dehydration, keeping them cool in lightweight clothes and light bedclothes to prevent overheating, and reducing the temperature with paracetamol (with care not to exceed the recommended dose).
It is recommended that you seek emergency medical advice at an A&E department if the fever lasts longer than five days or is accompanied by:
• difficulty breathing
• stiff neck
• rash, discolouration, or mottled skin
• worsening of symptoms