The normal body temperature is between 36.5°C and 37.5°C. In healthy kids, fevers usually don't indicate anything serious. While it can be worrying when your child's temperature rises, a fever can actually be a good thing — it's often the body's way of fighting infections. High fever, however, can make a child uncomfortable and worsen problems such as dehydration.
If your child has a temperature of over 37.5°C (measured orally), the chances are your child has a fever. This is very common and in most cases the symptoms will clear up without treatment.
There are various ways to check if your child has a fever:
Oral. The thermometer is inserted under the tongue, the mouth is closed and a reading is taken
Rectal. The thermometer is gently inserted into the rectum (child’s bottom) and a reading is taken
Armpit. The thermometer is placed under the armpit and the arm is held against the side of the body while a reading is taken
Ear. A digital thermometer is inserted into the ear and a reading is taken
It is important to remember that the temperature can vary according to the part of the body where it is measured, so always take the temperature at the same site.
A fever is the body’s way of helping your child fight off infections and illnesses. It works by turning up the temperature and making it difficult for bacteria and viruses to thrive. You should seek medical attention for managing the fever if your child:
- is under six months of age with fever
- has a fever over 40°C
- has convulsions
- has a stiff neck, headache, rash, repeated vomiting or diarrhea
- has a fever that hasn’t changed in over two days
- has a loss of appetite or stomach pain
- has earache
- has difficulty breathing
- cries inconsolably
If the doctor determines that a virus is causing your child’s fever, there is often no better treatment than time, rest, and fluids – unless it is making them uncomfortable or miserable. The doctor may also prescribe treatment for fever such as paracetamol, which can help to make your child feel more comfortable.
You can also make your child or infant feel more comfortable by:
- dressing them in loose, light clothing
- giving them plenty of clear fluids