Spot the symptoms of fever in your child and learn when a fever is too high. Read on to find out the causes of fever in children, and what you can do to bring it down.
The most common causes of fever in children are viral infections. There are other less common causes.
Gastroenteritis (Stomach Flu): vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach ache, dehydration
Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease: blister-like rash on the palms, soles, buttocks, tongue and mouth
5. Dengue Fever: headache, muscle and joint aches, rash
Chickenpox: blister-like rash on the body
These are less common than viral infections but can also cause fevers. e.g. pneumonia, urinary tract infections (foul-smelling urine and decreased urine production) and kidney infections.
Sometimes, children develop a fever after an immunisation e.g. after DTaP. Immunisations are designed to stimulate the immune system to develop immunity to a specific bacteria/virus. Fevers following immunisation are not usually prolonged.
Inflammatory conditions and reactions e.g. Kawasaki Disease (presents with prolonged fever, red eye, body rash, swelling of the lips/ tongue/ feet/ hands, lymph nodes in the neck) , some types of arthritis e.g. Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis or tumours may also cause fever.
Do note that teething in babies usually does not cause high fever.
Fever can be scary, especially if your child is very young, or if his fever is persistently high for a few days. A higher temperature does not mean a more severe illness. Fever is a symptom of an underlying disease and a sign that the body is fighting the disease.
Depending on your child's age, look out for changes in his behaviour when deciding whether and when, to bring him to the doctor. If your child appears well, responsive and can take feeds or eat despite running a fever, let him rest and sponge him to keep his temperature below 38˚C. Use your instincts. If you are concerned or think your child is getting worse, please seek medical attention for your child.
Go to the Children's Emergency immediately if your child:
Children between the ages of 6 months and 6 years may experience febrile seizures (fits) especially if the fever is persistently high. Approximately a third of the children who have had a febrile seizure may develop another episode in future. Fortunately, most children with febrile seizures do not develop any brain injury or epilepsy. Common signs of a febrile seizure include the following when the child has a fever:
Give Your Child the Best Protection
To help your child feel more comfortable, here's what you can do to bring down his temperature:
1. Sponge him with lukewarm water. Do not sponge your child with ice water or cold water, or for more than 30 minutes at a time.
2. Dress your child in thin clothing and cool the room. Do not wrap him in thick blankets to "sweat it out" as it will prevent him from losing heat.
3. Let your child rest more and drink lots of fluids to avoid dehydration.
4. Seek medical advice and serve the prescribed dosage of fever medications like paracetamol and ibuprofen (provided your child has no allergies) if his fever remains above 38.5 degrees Celsius. Do note that paracetamol and ibuprofen do not treat the cause of the fever
It is reassuring if a child improves with when the temperature comes down.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is meant purely for educational purposes and may not be used as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should seek the advice of your doctor or a qualified healthcare provider before starting any treatment or if you have any questions related to your health, physical fitness or medical condition.
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Learn more about the other common conditions that children face:
This article was last reviewed on
Wednesday, November 22, 2023
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