Fever in children

February 5, 2019

Dr Stephanie Ooi (MBBS, MSc, MRCGP) is a GP, mum to Lily and passionate women’s health advocate.

She has compiled a collection of short, informative and essential reading blog posts to help any new parent answer some of the most common medical questions and bust a few myths and old wives tales.

In part 3 of our must read blog series Dr Stephanie Ooi examines some common misconceptions around fever, what to look out for and how to read the signs!

Here is some advice for managing a child with a fever which is based on current guidance.


A note on Calpol and Nurofen:

Calpol is a branded version of Paracetamol. Nurofen is a branded version of Ibuprofen. The branded versions are more expensive but not any better! Unfortunately the market is saturated with the branded versions but if you can find the generic versions these are perfectly good to use too!


A fever is a temperature above 38C.


A fever occurs because the body is trying to fight off an infection and make it harder for any bacteria or viruses to survive. It is not an illness in itself.


As a result, you don’t actually have to give any medication to lower a temperature unless your child is distressed or unwell. If they are otherwise happy, they don’t need any medicine!


If they are distressed then choose either Paracetamol or Ibuprofen and use it by itself.


If one does not work to make your child comfortable then switch over to the other one.


If this doesn’t work then you can start to alternate doses of Paracetamol and Ibuprofen.


Paracetamol is given every 4-6 hours and Ibuprofen is given every 8 hours. Follow the instructions on the box for dosing.


Jotting down the times at which you give medication can help to avoid any confusion or mistakes.


General advice:

– Encourage regular fluids (can continue breastfeeding as normal)

– Avoid overheating or shivering. If your child is feeling hot then you can take off layers but no need to strip them down completely. Conversely, do not put on additional layers even if your child feels cold.

– Cool baths or sponging is NOT advised (a rebound fever can occur after this)

– Look out for signs of dehydration (sunken eyes, reduced wet nappies, dry mouth, absence of tears)


When to seek medical advice:

– If your baby has a fever and is under 3 months old

– If there is evidence of dehydration

– If you are worried about their breathing

– If they have a fit

– If there is a non-blanching rash

– If the fever lasts for more than 5 days

– If they are becoming more unwell

– If YOU are worried – you know them best!

Learn more from the GP mum HERE


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