A body temperature that is higher than normal. Normal body temperature is between 36°C and 37°C, but this
can vary by a few points of a degree from child to child. Always know what your child’s normal body temperature is when they are well. Fever is not an illness itself, but rather a symptom of a condition, usually an infection.
Fever is a body’s natural way of fighting off infection and is generally not a cause for alarm unless it is too high, lasts for too long and/or is accompanied by certain other symptoms (see treatment). If your child seems to be otherwise well (they’re playing, eating and attentive) they probably aren’t seriously ill.
Temperature rises above your child’s normal range.
May be accompanied by sweating, shivering, headache, muscle aches, loss of appetite, dehydration as well as general weakness (not always).
Keep your child cool, especially if the environment is warm.
Do not increase layers or wrap her tightly in blankets.
Bathing or sponging her in lukewarm water may help bring down the temperature. Do not use cold water, ice baths or alcohol.
A paediatric fever syrup or suppository, as recommended by your doctor or pharmacist, may be used to ease pain and reduce temperature. Usually ibuprofen or paracetomal medication will be recommended.
Never give aspirin to a person under 18 unless directed to by a doctor. The use of aspirin has been linked to Reye’s Syndrome (a life-threatening metabolic disorder) in children and teenagers.
Push fluids and watch for
signs of dehydration.
Seek immediate medical attention if:
The fever lasts more than one day in a child under two years.
The fever lasts more than three days in a child over two years.
Your newborn has a lower than normal body temperature (36°C or less).
Your baby is under three months old and has a temperature of 38°C or higher.
Your baby is between three and six months old and has a temperature of 39°C or higher.
Your child looks very sick, is drowsy, lethargic, listless, fussy, cannot hold eye contact (requires urgent attention).
Your child has a rash, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhoea, headache, stiff neck or earache (requires urgent attention).
Your child has a seizure (this requires urgent medical attention).