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Fever

    • What is a Fever?

      Fever

      A fever is a raised body temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or above. It occurs as a response to the body fighting infection. Fever itself is not harmful. In children, it is common to see high temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius. Having a higher grade fever does not mean that your child has a more severe illness.

      You can measure your child’s temperature with the following thermometers:

      • An infrared forehead thermomether
      • A digital or mercury oral thermometer
      • A digital or mercury thermometer under the armpit (this is recommended for infants below the age of 6 months)

      These methods may produce slight variations in temperature measurement.

      Children with high fevers are usually more tired and irritable. They may sleep more than usual to aid recovery. It is also normal to have a reduced appetite for solids and to drink less. As the temperature rises, they may also shiver.

      These symptoms may be distressing to parents but it is more important to monitor the symptoms of the underlying infection. In children, most infections are caused by viruses and are fought off by the healthy immune system. Few infections, where your child displays only focal symptoms eg. throat pain with no cough or runny nose, cough with no runny nose, watery eyes or diarrhoea may be bacterial and would require treatment with antibiotics.

    • What can I do to keep my child comfortable?

      Dress your child in light and comfortable clothing. Do not overdress your child or overwrap babies. Add on a blanket during periods of shivering.

      Ensure that your child stays hydrated with small and frequent fluids. They should be able to pass adequate amount of urine at least every 6 – 8 hours.

      Medications such as paracetamol (and ibuprofen above 6 – 12 months) can be given to temporarily bring down the symptoms of fever to make your child more comfortable. If your child continues to be well and happy, there is no need to treat the fever. Treating the fever with these medications does not cure the illness. The fever will subside once the immune system has fought off the infection.

      Other physical measures to provide comfort include sponging the forehead, neck, armpits and groin with a wet towel. Always use lukewarm water and not cold water for sponging. Avoid cold showers as shivering will further raise the body temperature.

    • When should I bring my child to a doctor?

      You should bring your child to a doctor if they display any of the following symptoms:

      • Hard or fast breathing
      • Drowsiness or increased lethargy
      • Febrile fit/seizure
      • Fever for a few days with no other symptoms
      • Red lips, red eyes or rash
      • Severe pain over any part of the body
      • Smelly urine
      • Extreme irritability or inconsolability despite measures to bring down the fever
      • Refusal to drink fluids or not passing adequate urine

      *Babies below the age of 3 months with a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or more should be seen at an Emergency Department

    • Will my child develop a febrile fit/seizure?

      Some young children between 6 months and 6 years of age can develop febrile fits with a sudden rise in body temperature. Sometimes a seizure can occur before the fever is detected. It is important to bring your child to a doctor for evaluation after a fit/seizure. The prevalence of febrile fits in this age group is 1 in 30 children.

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