When you notice your child is suffering from a high temperature it can be worrying. However, a high temperature can often mean a fever, which is common in young children. To ensure your child recovers quickly it is important to be aware of the oncoming signs of a fever and to understand the different ways you can ease their discomfort during the illness.
Why does my child have a high temperature?
A high temperature is one of the natural ways your child’s immune system defends against viruses and infections by making it extremely difficult for viruses and bacteria to survive.
So when your child has a high temperature it is a sign that they may be suffering from an underlying illness such as a cold, flu, ear infection, sore throat or urinary tract infection etc.
Children’s temperatures can also rise during teething, after vaccination or if they overheat because of excess bedding or clothing.
How do I Know when my child’s temperature is too high?
The NHS states that a baby’s body temperature should be approximately 36.4 degrees Celsius. Temperature does vary slightly from child to child so it’s a good idea to note down your baby’s temperature when they’re well, so that you know what their ‘normal’ body temperature is. A temperature of 38.0 degrees Celsius or more in a child under five is considered to be a fever.
An accurate way to measure your child’s temperature is to use a digital thermometer and hold or attach under your child’s armpit.
Monitoring your child’s temperature closely is the best tactic to keep track on how the fever is developing and to also know if the high temperature is a result of having too many layers of clothing or due to their surroundings.
Are there any other symptoms of a fever that I should look out for?
Symptoms of fever can vary according to the underlying cause but you can generally tell that your child has a fever if they:
- Appear hot and flushed all over
- Look pale with cool hands and feet but have a hot forehead, tummy and back
- Are irritable, crying and lethargic
- Start to shiver uncontrollably
- Act restless, particularly during the night
- Lose their appetite
- Vomit suddenly
How can I help bring my child's temperature down?
Most fevers in children resulting from minor ailments are not serious and tend to go away on their own once the illness or infection clears up. In the meantime there are some things you can do to help make your child more comfortable while trying to bring the fever down:
- Offer fluids regularly: During a fever, your child will lose fluids through sweating or a runny nose and because fluids help the body tackle infection it’s important to replace as much fluid as possible. Offer your child plenty of water to drink and if possible some clear soup to replace the lost fluids.
- Ensure rest: Rest helps your child’s body focus its energy on getting better so make sure your child gets plenty of rest to aid their recovery.
- Ensure your child is dressed comfortably: When your child has a high temperature they will feel uncomfortable in layers of heavy clothing. Remove these and instead cover them in a light sheet, which will let them cool down but also keep them warm if they start to shiver.
- Keep the air in your house moist and cool: Placing a humidifier in your child's room can keep the air moist and reduce any nasal and chest congestion.
- Offer some medicine: Giving your child pain relief, such as Nurofen for Children 3 months to 9 years, will ease discomfort and help to bring down a fever
Nurofen for Children 3 months to 9 years is clinically proven to last longer than Paracetamol and works to reduce fever in only 15 minutes. Nothing works to reduce fever faster or for longer*.
Nurofen for Children 3 months to 9 years liquid suspension is available in two flavours Strawberry and Orange.
When should I seek medical advice?
Although a fever doesn’t always indicate a serious illness and usually only lasts for a few days, if any of the following points apply to your child or if you have any doubts or concerns then it is strongly recommended that you seek medical advice from a doctor.
- Your child is under 3 months and has a temperature higher than 38°C
- Your child is between 3 and 6 months and has a temperature higher than 39°C
- Your child is vomiting and refuses to drink
- Your child is in pain
- Your child appears drowsy or more sleepy than usual
- The fever lasts longer than a day
- The fever is accompanied by other symptoms, such as a stiff neck, rash or problems breathing
- Some children experience a febrile convulsion which is a seizure caused by a sudden rise in temperature where their body may shake and twitch. While febrile convulsions can be frightening, they are mostly short-lived and unlikely to cause harm. It is always recommended you seek medical advice if your child has a febrile convulsion.