Dealing with Fevers in Children | Gleneagles Hospitals
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Dealing With Fevers In Children

Having a child come down with a fever can be an alarming thing for parents, especially first-time mums and dads. In this article, Dr. Khamini Ramanujam, our resident consultant Paediatrician shares her insights, and addresses the concerns when it comes to fevers in children.

Having a child come down with a fever can be an alarming thing for parents, especially first-time mommies and daddies.

What temperature is considered too high? Should you take your little one to the doctor immediately? Let’s find out.


How to take temperature readings for children

Fever happens when the body’s internal ‘thermostat’ or hypothalamus in the brain raises the body temperature above normal levels – typically as a natural defence to fight an infection.

Children are considered to have a fever when their temperature hits 38°C (or 100.4°F).

It is recommended for parents to use digital thermometers to take readings, as these are the quickest and most accurate.

  • For newborns up to three months old, it is best to take temperatures rectally (in the anus).
  • For infants aged between three months and three years, it is recommended to get readings rectally, from the ears or armpits.
  • For children aged five and above, it can be done orally, from the ears or armpits.

Common causes of fever in children

Some of the most common causes of fever in children in Malaysia are:

  • Viral or bacterial infections
  • Result of immunisation
  • Teething
  • Malignancy or inflammatory conditions like Kawasaki Disease or connective tissue disease

When to see a doctor

As fevers are a natural part of growing up, it is important for parents to know when it is something they can manage at home, and when they should seek urgent medical advice.

It is imperative to consult your doctor if:

  • Temperature hits 38°C or higher for infants younger than three months.
  • Temperature hits 39°C for an older child.

Symptoms to look out for are those that are unlike any your child have had before, such as:

  • Refusal of feeds
  • Inactivity
  • Lasting diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Showing signs of dehydration - lethargy, inattentiveness, dry mouth, reduced peeing, or lack of tears while crying
  • Irritable
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures
  • Have paler than usual skin colour
  • Experience earaches, sore throat, rashes
  • Pain while urinating

Should the issues above persist, and the fever does not subside after 48 hours, or if your child has a chronic medical problem, you should consult a doctor immediately.

Children can develop terrible seizures if their fever is high and remain untreated. The two most serious infections are meningitis and septicaemia (blood infection) – and while uncommon, symptoms can quickly worsen, and urgent medical attention is needed.

But sometimes, a fever can be caused by something as simple as overdressing (particularly in young infants) or the child being in a hot environment.

Fever management at home

It is probably not serious if the child is still having normal activity and play, is alert, eating and drinking well, and looks well when the temperature settles.

If your feverish child is fussy or uncomfortable, they can be given paracetamol along with fluids such as water, soups, juices, ice-lollies, or jello to avoid dehydration. Do not force them to eat if they do not feel like it and let them eat what they want in moderation.

Ensure they get adequate rest, so it is best to keep them out of school, nursery, or daycare. Keep them in a cool environment and avoid under or over-wrapping them in clothing.

Make an appointment at Gleneagles Hospitals

Children will inevitably develop fevers during their childhood, and most will recover and return to their normal selves within a few days. But for infants younger than three months or children with constant diarrhoea or vomiting, it is better to be safe and consult a doctor.

Get in touch with us to find out more about our Paediatric Services at your nearest Gleneagles Hospital. A dedicated team of paediatricians is ready to provide medical assistance if your child has a fever and related conditions.

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