Fever is a rise in body temperature above the normal temperature (usually around 37°C). Most fevers are due to infections caused by bacteria or viruses, and symptoms can include feeling unwell, feeling hot and sweaty, shivering, a flushed face and chattering teeth.
On average, a child has up to 10 infections per year. Body temperature isn’t a reliable indicator of illness for babies and young children – a child may have a mild temperature according to the thermometer (slightly over 37°C), but seem happy and healthy. Trust your own instincts, but seek medical help if your child is aged six months or less, has a rash, has a fever of 40°C or more, is still feverish after a day or so despite four-hourly doses of baby paracetamol, vomits or has persistent diarrhoea, refuses food or drink, cries inconsolably, convulses or twitches, has trouble breathing, is in pain, or if you feel at all worried or concerned at any stage.
Lastly, you should seek immediate medical attention if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Fever with headache and a stiff neck, which can be signs of meningitis.
- Rash that does not blanch to skin pressure (indicates bleeding into the skin), this can indicate a life threatening illness.