Watching how your child behaves will give you a pretty good idea of whether a minor illness is the cause or if your child should be seen by a doctor. And don't worry too much about a child with a fever who doesn't want to eat. This is very common with infections that cause fever. For kids who still drink and urinate pee normally, not eating as much as usual is OK. A gentle kiss on the forehead or a hand placed lightly on the skin is often enough to give you a hint that your child has a fever.
However, this method of taking a temperature called tactile temperature won't give an accurate measurement. Use a reliable digital thermometer to confirm a fever. It's a fever when a child's temperature is at or above one of these levels:. But how high a fever is doesn't tell you much about how sick your child is. Because fevers can rise and fall, a child might have chills as the body's temperature begins to rise.
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The child may sweat to release extra heat as the temperature starts to drop. Sometimes kids with a fever breathe faster than usual and may have a faster heart rate. Call the doctor if your child has trouble breathing, is breathing faster than normal, or is still breathing fast after the fever comes down. Again, not all fevers need to be treated. In most cases, a fever should be treated only if it's causing a child discomfort. If your child is fussy or uncomfortable, you can give acetaminophen or ibuprofen based on the package recommendations for age or weight.
Unless instructed by a doctor, never give aspirin to a child due to its association with Reye syndrome, a rare but potentially fatal disease. If you don't know the recommended dose or your child is younger than 2 years old, call the doctor to find out how much to give. Infants younger than 2 months old should not be given any medicine for fever without being checked by a doctor.
If your child has any medical problems, check with the doctor to see which medicine is best to use. Remember that fever medicine can temporarily bring a temperature down, but usually won't return it to normal — and it won't treat the underlying reason for the fever.
Dress your child in lightweight clothing and cover with a light sheet or blanket. Overdressing and overbundling can prevent body heat from escaping and can cause the temperature to rise. Make sure your child's bedroom is a comfortable temperature — not too hot or too cold. While some parents use lukewarm sponge baths to lower fever, this method only helps temporarily, if at all.
Fever in adults
In fact, sponge baths can make kids uncomfortable. Offer plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration because fevers make kids lose fluids more rapidly than usual. Water, soup, ice pops, and flavored gelatin are all good choices. Avoid drinks with caffeine, including colas and tea, because they can make dehydration worse by increasing urination peeing. You can find these at drugstores and supermarkets.
Don't offer sports drinks — they're not made for younger children and the added sugars can make diarrhea worse. Also, limit your child's intake of fruits and apple juice. In general, let kids eat what they want in reasonable amounts , but don't force it if they don't feel like it. Make sure your child gets plenty of rest. Sometimes, a convulsion happens when parents don't actually know their child has a fever. Febrile convulsions are not common and do not usually cause any long term health effects. See our fact sheet Febrile convulsions. The infection that leads to a fever is often caused by a virus, and sometimes by bacteria.
Only bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics. Viral infections are far more common and do not need antibiotics, because antibiotics do not cure viruses. If your child seems well and is happy, there is no need to treat a fever. If your child is miserable, there are things you can do to help them to feel more comfortable:.
Doctors do not focus on fever in a child. They are more concerned about how your child looks and feels — if your child is not drinking, is lethargic and not themselves, or they have had a persistent fever for two or more days, that is when a doctor may try to work out what is causing the fever, and may require a blood test or urine sample. It is more likely that an infection is present. Not if your child is feeling better and their other symptoms have improved.
Paracetamol and ibuprofen may not make the fever go away, but the aim is to make your child feel better. If the fever has lasted for more than two days without getting better, see a doctor. When I feel sick, my GP advises me to take aspirin.
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Can I also use this for my child? Aspirin should never be given to a child to help manage their fever. It can lead to a dangerous condition called Reye syndrome. It should only be given when specifically recommended by a doctor. Paracetamol or ibuprofen can be used instead. We acknowledge the input of RCH consumers and carers. The app will enable you to search and browse more than three hundred medical fact sheets and work offline. Disclaimer This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals.
The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout.
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Kids Health Info Toggle section navigation. Fever in children. Your child may also be: unwell and hot to touch irritable or crying more sleepy than usual vomiting or refusing to drink shivering in pain.