If your child has a fever, he or she will have a body temperature above 38°C. Your child may also feel tired, look pale, have a poor appetite, be irritable, have a headache or other aches and pains and feel generally unwell. Take the temperature from the armpit (don’t use in the mouth of under 5s). However, bear in mind that these measurements are less accurate as the armpit is slightly cooler.
A fever is part of the body’s natural response to fight infection and can often be left to run its course provided your child is drinking enough and is otherwise well. Give them regular drinks - try small amounts of juice or cordial containing sugar. If your child is having trouble drinking, trying to reduce their temperature may help with this. This is important to prevent your child from becoming dehydrated. As a guide, your child’s urine should be pale yellow - if it is darker, your child may need to drink more.
Fevers are common in young children and can come and go. They are usually caused by viral infections and clear up without treatment. However, a fever can occasionally be a sign of a more serious illness such as a severe bacterial infection of the blood (septicaemia), urinary tract infection, pneumonia, measles, meningitis or other contagious disease. If your child has a fever and a rash, contact your GP.
You should also contact your GP if fever symptoms are not improving after 48 hours.
Always seek medical advice if your child develops a fever soon after an operation, or soon after travelling abroad.