While fevers are common in young children, the very first time a baby has fever can be alarming for parents. To ensure a quick recovery, it’s essential to be aware of the signs of fever and to know what you can do to help.
WHAT IS A FEVER?
A fever is usually considered to be any reading over 37.5°C, the body’s normal temperature, and is often the first sign your child is fighting off an infection. The rise in temperature helps your child’s immune system to get rid of the infection, by making it difficult for viruses and bacteria to survive.
Children’s temperatures can also rise during teething, after vaccination or if they overheat because of excess bedding or clothing. Close monitoring is the best tactic – that way you’ll know if the rise is a result of your child being tucked in too tightly.
WHAT ARE THE TYPICAL SIGNS OF FEVER?
You can generally tell your child has a fever by touching their forehead or taking their temperature with a thermometer. However, a temperature isn’t the only sign.
If a child has fever, they may also:
• Be irritable
• Appear hot and flushed
• Shiver uncontrollably
• Feel unwell
• Vomit suddenly
In some children, a sudden rise in temperature can also cause a seizure – known as a febrile convulsion –where their body may shake and twitch. Febrile convulsions can be a frightening experience, however are mostly short-lived and unlikely to cause harm. You should seek medical advice once the convulsion has ended.
WHEN SHOULD I BE CONCERNED ABOUT FEVER?
Although fever doesn’t always indicate a serious illness, you should always see your doctor if:
• Your child is aged under 6 months
• Your child is vomiting and refuses to drink
• Your child is in pain
• Your child appears more sleepy than usual
• The fever rises above 38.5°C
• The fever lasts longer than a day
• The fever is accompanied by other symptoms, such as a stiff neck, rash or problems breathing
• If you feel worried or concerned
HOW TO EASE A FEVER?
You will naturally want to make comfort a priority when your child has a fever, and avoiding dehydration is important. Throughout the day, and during any restless periods at night, give your child small amounts of a clear fluid, such as water, diluted fruit juice or cordial.
You may also want to try an over-the-counter analgesic designed specifically for children. Nurofen for Children contains ibuprofen, which relieves pain and can help reduce fever for up to eight hours.