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Fever: what to do and when to consult

A child with a fever can be very worrying for parents. Fever is an increase in body temperature and is a natural and important mechanism for fighting infection. A high temperature is not necessarily a sign of something serious. Your child’s behaviour needs to be taken into consideration as well. The aim is not to lower his temperature too much nor too fast but to make your child comfortable and to monitor him.

A few simple steps can make your child feel better (see below). If he is uncomfortable, you can give him some antipyretic medicine (to reduce the temperature). If your child’s behaviour is quite normal, do not worry and just watch him.

How do you know if your child has a fever?  You may suspect that your child has a fever when he appears warm and/or his behaviour is altered. Use a digital thermometer to measure the temperature under the arm or in the ear.

What to do if your child has a fever?  Here are a few simple things to do in case of fever:

put your child in a cool, ventilated room (between 18 and 20 ° C) and avoid overheated rooms;
do not cover him too much but do not undress him completely;
give him water often to avoid dehydration;
It is not advisable to give it a cool bath or to use cold compresses as it tends to lower the child’s temperature too quickly.

What about medicines?  It is not always necessary to give a medicine if the temperature is well tolerated. However you can start by giving some paracetamol (Doliprane, Calpol, Dafalgan ...) which is the 1st choice in the absence of contraindications. If paracetamol is not sufficient you can give a dose of Ibuprofen. Always ensure that the prescribed dosage, the minimum interval between 2 doses and the maximum number of daily doses are observed.

When should you consult a Doctor?  

Consult urgently:

If your child’s temperature is more than 38C ( 100.4F) and he is less than 3 months;
If your child’s temperature is more than 38C (100.4F);
He is generally getting worse ( no longer eats, refuses to drink, he is drowsy, his cries are weak, his skin is mottled);
He has a severe headache, stiff neck, a bulging fontanelle or is vomiting;
He becomes dehydrated;
Has difficulty breathing (rapid breathing, breathing breaks, irregular breathing, signs of respiratory tract infection).

Consult on the same day

If your child’s temperature is more than 38C (100.4F) and he is less than 6 months;
If your child’s temperature is more than 38C (100.4F) and he has;
Severe vomiting or diarrhea;
A chronic disease;
Frequent episodes of fever;
The fever reappears after having disappeared more than 24 hours or lasts more than three days;
The fever persists despite the prescribed treatment;
The fever is accompanied by any other symptoms that worry you. 

Sources:  NHS direct