What Causes Fever in Children and How to Control It



Fever in children is a sign of infection in the body which leads to a rise in body temperature. It is often caused by a virus or sometimes bacteria. Viral infections, which are far more common, do not need antibiotics. Bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics.

The fever is a way in which the body fights infection, and your child’s temperature will return to normal when the infection has completely gone.

A normal temperature range for a child is usually up to 37.5° C.

A high fever does not necessarily mean your child has a serious illness. However, young babies with fever do need to be checked carefully by a doctor.

If your child’s temperature rises suddenly this can cause a febrile seizure. Even though seizures are uncommon it is helpful to know what a seizure is just in case your child has one. Sometimes a seizure happens when parents are not aware their child has a fever.

Key points to remember about Fever
  • Fevers are common in children.
  • Treat the fever by making your child more comfortable, give clear – fluids (e.g.: water, diluted fruit juice) and paracetamol if the fever is making your child miserable.
  • If your child seems unwell take your child’s temperature. The normal temperature range is up to 37.5°C.
  • Watch your child for signs of the illness getting worse.
  • If your child seems well and is happy there is no need to treat the fever.
  • If your child is under 3 months and has a fever above 37.5° C take them to the doctor to be checked

Care of your child

At home you can make your child more comfortable

  • Dress your child in light clothing and keep them cool.
  • Give your child frequent small drinks of clear fluid (e.g.: water, diluted fruit juice or cordial). Do not worry if your child refuses to eat at this time. If your child is under six months give extra cool boiled – water, breast feeds, or bottle.
  • Paracetamol ( e.g.: Panadol) can be given in the correct dose every four hours to treat a fever above 38.0° C. However, do not give for more than 2 days without seeing your doctor. If your child seems well and is happy, there is no need to treat a fever with paracetamol. If the fever is above 38.5° C and your child is miserable or has other symptoms such as sore throat, seek medical advice.


Taking Your Child’s Temperature

Make sure you have a thermometer that works and you know how to use it. Mercury and digital thermometers are more accurate. Plastic tape thermometers used on the forehead are not reliable. Ask your Pediatric Clinic or Ward staff to show you how to use your thermometer. The thermometer needs to be in place for two minutes to get a correct reading.

Go back to your doctor if:

  • Your child looks sicker than before
  • Your child complains of a stiff neck or light hurting their eyes.
  • Your child has difficulty breathing
  • Your child refuses to drink very much
  • Your child is vomiting a lot
  • Your child is drowsy
  • Your child is in pain OR you are worried for any reason.



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