What is a fever?
A fever is a rise in the body’s temperature above normal. A ‘normal’ body temperature is usually around 37°C, but it can vary depending on where it is measured and also at different times of the day.
A fever is a natural response designed to fight off infections caused by bacteria or viruses. The infection causes the immune system to reset the body’s thermostat to a higher level to ‘kill off the bug’.
A temperature of greater than 38°C usually means you have a fever. However, interestingly, a high fever doesn’t necessarily mean your child has a serious illness.
What is a normal temperature?
A normal temperature is when your child’s body is around 37 degrees Celsius. A fever may be described as mild or high. A mild fever usually means between 38 and 39 degrees Celsius. A high fever usually means over 39 degrees Celsius. Remember that a child’s normal body temperature can vary depending on where it is measured, and also at different times of the day
How to take your child’s temperature
It’s a good idea to check your child’s temperature if they feel hot or seem unwell. There are three ways to take your child’s temperature;
1. Under the arm (axilla) for all children
- – Place the thermometer high in the armpit
- – Put their arm down by their side
- – Read the thermometer after 3 minutes or follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the electronic type
2. Under the tongue (oral) for children over 5 years old
- – Place the thermometer as far under the tongue as possible and have your child keep their mouth closed around the thermometer
- – Read after 3 minutes or follow the manufacturer’s instructions
- – Do not use this method if your child has recently had a hot or cold drink
3. In the ear (tympanic) for all children
- – Slide a new throw-away cover over the tip of the thermometer
- – Hold your child’s head so it does not move and gently pull the ear straight back
- – The thermometer tip should be gently placed in the ear canal and allowed to fit snugly.
- – Press the button to turn on the thermometer and wait until the device beeps OR follow the manufacturer’s instructions. When you have a reading remove the thermometer and dispose of the cover
- Carefully read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions
- Before and after each use, clean the tip of the thermometer with soap and warm water
- Never leave your child alone while you’re taking their temperature
If you’re unsure how to best use your thermometer, ask your pharmacist to show you how.
When should I take my child to see the doctor?
You should see a doctor if your child has a fever and:
- Your child is less than 3 months old
- Your child seems very sick
- Your child has had a fever for more than 2 days
- Your child has a rash
- Your child is vomiting and refusing to drink much
Of course, if you have any concerns about your child’s health, consult your healthcare professional. Ask for Dymadon by name at your pharmacy.
What should I do if my child has a fever?
- Let them rest
- Dress them lightly but ensure they are not cold
- Give plenty of clear fluids to drink. If your child is younger than 6 months, give extra breastfeeds, cooled boiled water or bottles of formula
- Sponging with warm or cool water is not recommended
- Give paracetamol such as Dymadon every 4-6 hours if required. Make sure you don’t give more than 4 doses within a 24-hour period or for longer than 48 hours without seeking advice from a doctor.