What do I do if my child has a fever?

Fever is a sign that the body is suffering from a disease. It is not a disease in itself but a symptom that accompanies a lot of illnesses, letting us know that something is wrong. Do you know at what temperature a child is considered to have a fever?

A baby is considered to have a fever when his temperature, taken rectally, is over 38°C. As we said, fever is a warning sign of a disease, generally an infection. That's why any baby with a fever should always be taken to the doctor to find out the cause and be prescribed the best treatment.

What should I do before going to the doctor?

If your child is more than 12 months old and has a very high fever – over 39°C – you should go to the emergency department. The same applies for children under 12 months with a temperature of more than 38°C. If the fever is not very high and the child's general condition is not bad and there are no other worrying symptoms, you can go to your normal paediatric consultation. Meanwhile, follow these tips to lower the fever:

  • Don't wrap your child in too many clothes.
  • Keep the child's room cool and airy so the viruses do not accumulate (but never air the room with the child in it, of course).
  • You can give him a warm bath.
  • If your child is sweating a lot, make sure that he is well hydrated. If he is still breastfeeding exclusively, offer him the breast more often.
  • If prescribed by your doctor, give your child an antipyretic.

 How do I take my child's temperature?

The first thing to remember is that infants usually have a higher temperature than adults, although not always. According to the experts, the most reliable way to take a temperature is rectally.

You can use a digital thermometer to see whether or not your child has a fever. Look for a quick, reliable model, as children will not usually remain still for long. If the child's temperature is over 38°C rectally, 37.5°C orally or 37.2°C using the axillary method (armpit), he has a fever.

Other warning signs

Apart from a high fever, you should go to the emergency department if your child has any of the following symptoms:

  • Febrile seizures
  • Dizziness and vomiting
  • Swelling of the fontanelles
  • Stiff neck

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