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Fever

Blonde Child with Rabbit Stuffed Toy Smiling after recovering from Fever

Fever in Infants & Children

A fever is a higher than normal body temperature. It is usually a symptom of an infection or illness such as a cold or flu.

When measured by a thermometer under the tongue or arm, a child's fever is usually measured at over 37.5 degrees Celsius.16

A fever is the body's way of responding to infection or illness; however children with fever often feel quite miserable. Reducing a fever can help reduce their stress.

Fever Symptoms & Solutions

When suffering from a fever, children usually show signs of illness such as sleepiness and a poor appetite. Look for a hot face or forehead, and a body that feels hot or shivery17.

Children aged over 3 years can usually report their pain symptoms, although it pays to observe children of this age as well for signs of pain, such as grimacing or touching the sore spot. In newborn babies and infants it's a more difficult task.

There are some similarities between the signs and symptoms of pain and fever as you can see in the table below.

Pain18 Fever19
Screwing up of eyes Pallor
Nasal flaring Poor appetite
Grimacing Irritable
Increased heart rate Fussy
Breathing rapidly Breathing rapidly
Sweating Quiet
Flushing Hot to touch
Pallor Not feeding normally
Crying Crying
Finger clenching, thrashing of limbs, arching of back, head banging Lethargic

Children’s Advil Pain and Fever can help children feel more comfortable sooner, by reducing fever as well as aches and pains. It can provide up to 8 hours fever relief, including fever associated with immunisation.

Using a thermometer is the best way to check your child’s temperature.

Feeling your child’s skin temperature is not always a reliable way of diagnosing a fever.

There are several different methods for taking a child’s temperature using a thermometer orally (under tongue), rectally (bottom), axillary (armpit), aurally (ear), or superficially (wiping across forehead).

Your GP or health nurse can also show you how to take your child’s temperature with a thermometer.

When to be concerned about fever

Babies under three months of age who develop a fever must be seen by a doctor immediately, because it may be more difficult to tell if they have a serious underlying illness.

In children under 12 months, fever might be a sign of a more significant illness, and you should seek medical advice.

Also seek medical attention if your child of any age:

  • Looks sicker than before – more pale, lethargic and weak
  • Has trouble breathing
  • Becomes drowsy
  • Refuses to drink, and is weeing less often (if your baby has fewer than half the usual number of wet nappies, see a doctor)
  • Complains of a stiff neck, persistent headache or light hurting their eyes
  • Vomits persistently, or has frequent bouts of diarrhea
  • Doesn’t improve in 48 hours
  • Is aged less than 12 months and has a fever
  • Has a fever above 40°C

References:

  1. 16Healthdirect Australia. Fever in Children. http://www.healthdirect.gov.au/fever-in-children [Accessed 22 February 2016]
  2. 17http://www.advilpainandfever.com.au/advil-pain-and-fever/what-is-fever.html
    [Accessed 19 November 2015]
  3. 18Management of procedure related pain in children. 2005. [Accessed19 November 2015]
    http://www.racp.edu.au/docs/default-source/advocacy-library/management-of-procedure-related-pain-in-children-and-adolescents.pdf
  4. 15emedicine health, fever in children. 2015. [Accessed 19 November 2015]
    http://www.emedicinehealth.com/fever_in_children/page2_em.htm#fever_in_children_symptoms