Fever is the body’s natural defence against infection. When bacteria or viruses enter the body, they release chemicals which cause the body’s temperature to rise higher than normal. Babies and toddlers are more prone to fever than older children and adults because they have weaker immune systems.  Viral infections may cause fever to persist for five to seven days.

A child’s body temperature varies slightly throughout the day and night.  It is usually lower in the morning and higher in the afternoon and evening.  If the child is more active physically, the body temperature is likely to be higher. The normal body temperature is between 36.5°C and 37.5 °C.  However, the temperature does not necessarily indicate the severity of the underlying illness that is causing the fever.

What ​you should know about fever in children?

Consulting a doctor
Contact your doctor immediately if your child shows the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy or drowsiness
  • Eating poorly and taking less food  than usual
  • Has a stiff neck
  • Throwing a fits
  • Has difficulty in breathing
  • Has decrease urine output
  • Has abdominal pain and discomfort
  • Has rashes
  • Has a fever lasting more than four to five days
  • Is crying inconsolably

Consult a doctor immediately if:

  • Your child is less than 2 months old and has fever
  • The fever is more than 40.0°C
  • Your child’s fever lasts for more than three days
  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • Your child is difficult to awaken or is drowsy
  • Your child’s neck is stiff
  • Your child has persistent vomiting
  • Purple spots appear on your child’s skin
  • Your child experiences convulsions
  • Breathing is difficult
  • Your child is unable to swallow anything and drooling saliva
  • Your child has persistent diarrhoea
  • Your child is crying inconsolably
  • Pain occurs with urination, or the urine is cloudy

Giving medication

As ​rule of thumb, medications be given under a doctor’s advice. Treatment with anti-fever medicines may suppress the fever temporarily. Once the infection is treated, the fever will subside. 

Paracetamol is a common medication, which can be given safely to children. However, care must be taken regarding the dosage given because over dosing may cause liver damage. Also, different brands of paracetamol preparations comes in different concentrations. Try to avoid giving aspirin if possible.