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Temperature and Fever

A high temperature or fever is a common symptom people develop when they become unwell – it is caused by many different factors.  Temperatures can vary from being slightly high to dangerous depending on what has caused it and the underlying illness.

Fever in children

It can be worrying for parents when children develop a temperature.  – a temperature of more than 37.5C (99.5F) is considered a fever in a child. However this can vary between children, with some being unwell with a lower temperature and others with a much higher temperature can be perfectly well.

What’s most important is knowing what is normal for your child and if you have concerns about their temperature to seek advice.

Mild temperatures are normally nothing to worry about but there are certain times where you might need to seek medical advice.

  • If your child is less than 3 months old and has a temperature of 38C (101F) or above OR your child is 3-6months old and has a temperature of 39C (102F) or above.
  • The fever lasts more than five days.
  • If your child has a seizure (fit).
  • If your child is showing signs of serious illness, such as blotchy skin, non fading rash or faster breathing.
  • If you are concerned about your child – trust your instincts if you think your child is unwell.

Further information is available at NHS Choices

How to treat a temperature

  • Children's paracetamol or ibuprofen work as antipyretics, which help to reduce fever, as well as being painkillers. You can't give them both at the same time, but if one doesn't work, you may want to try the other later.
  • Antipyretics aren't always necessary. If your child isn't distressed by the fever or underlying illness, there's no need to use antipyretics to reduce a fever.
  • When using antipyretics, always read the patient information leaflet that comes with the medication to find the correct dose and frequency for your child's age.
  • Cool down your environment by opening windows and remove excess clothing.
  • If your symptoms persist seek medical advice – you may need treatment for the underlying problem that is causing your temperature.

Key Points

  • A very high temperature in a child can be dangerous. Ensure you take all steps to treat them at home following medical advice. Should the temperature persist or become dangerously high, you must seek medical help.
  • A temperature is not always something to worry about – a simple temperature may well pass quickly using over the counter medications.
  • A high temperature that persists can be a sign of infection – if a temperature persists then you may need to seek medical advice.
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