Learn how to diagnose fever, identify fever symptoms in young children and what to do for a child with a fever.
Fever is a normal physiological response to illness, which facilitates and accelerates recovery. The condition is common in young children, and often benign and self-limiting. However, as childhood fever may be associated with increased morbidity in children, it frequently causes concern among parents and healthcare providers, and is consequently one of the most common reasons for which children are brought to seek medical attention.
In most cases, fever is a presenting symptom of a self-limiting viral infection. However, it may also be associated with serious bacterial infections, such as meningitis and pneumonia, and other non-infective illnesses such as Kawasaki’s disease and malignancy.
Thus it is important for healthcare professionals to determine the underlying serious illness causing the fever, and to identify children with life-threatening features and those at risk of serious illness so that timely intervention and proper referral can be made.
The most common causes of fever seen in young children who seek medical treatment at the Children's Emergency department at KK Women's and Children's Hospital include viral fevers, upper respiratory tract infections and gastroenteritis.
Guidelines for Clinical Assessment and Management of Fevers in Children
Be alert to features such as compromised airway, breathing or circulation, and decreased level of consciousness.
After stabilising the child with fever, a thorough history-taking and systematic examination should be carried out to determine the underlying cause of the fever and assess the child for risk of serious illness.
It is crucial to measure and record the child’s vital signs such as temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate and capillary refill time. Signs of dehydration such as prolonged capillary refill time, abnormal skin turgor, abnormal respiratory pattern, weak pulse and cool extremities should also be assessed.
DIAGNOSIS TO BE CONSIDERED
FEATURES IN CONJUNCTION WITH FEVER
Non-blanching rash, particularly with one or more of the following features:
Fever for more than five days, and at least four of the following features:
Herpes simplex encephalitis
Urinary tract infection
"Children with features indicating low risk of illness can be cared for at home; however, it is important to diagnose and treat the underlying cause of fever appropriately."
Colour (skin, lips or tongue)
here to read more and refer to Table 1 and 2.
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This article was last reviewed on
22 Nov 2023
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