I have invited Dr Stephanie on to the blog to answer some questions about how to manage a fever or temperature in children. With Autumn and soon Winter approaching I think this is a really useful post.
Hello! Thank you to Joanne for having me on here! I am Stephanie – Mum to my almost 2 year old daughter Lily and a private GP working at MyHealthcare Clinic in London. I post information about a variety of health topics with a bit of Motherhood in between. There is so much misinformation about health nowadays and I hope to provide some accurate bitesize information for people to refer to!
I wanted to go through how to manage a fever in children. We have gotten through about 2 bottles of Calpol the past Winter period and I commonly see feverish children, so I thought it would be a good place to start!
A note on Calpol and Nurofen:
Calpol is a branded version of Paracetamol. Nurofen is a branded version of Ibuprofen. The branded versions are more expensive but not any better! Unfortunately, the market is saturated with the branded versions but if you can find the generic versions these are perfectly good to use too!
What is a fever and why does it occur?
A fever is a temperature above 38C.
It happens because the body is trying to fight off an infection and make it harder for any bacteria or viruses to survive. It is not an illness in itself. As a result, you don’t actually have to give any medication to lower a temperature unless your child is distressed or unwell. If they are otherwise happy, they don’t need any medicine!
What can I give to my child to help?
If they are distressed, then choose either Paracetamol or Ibuprofen and use it by itself. If one does not work to make your child comfortable then switch over to the other one. If this doesn’t work, then you can start to alternate doses of Paracetamol and Ibuprofen.
How often can I give medication?
Paracetamol is given every 4-6 hours and Ibuprofen is given every 8 hours. Follow the instructions on the box for dosing. Jotting down the times at which you give medication can help to avoid any confusion or mistakes.
Some general advice:
– Encourage regular fluids (can continue breastfeeding as normal)
– Avoid overheating or shivering. If your child is feeling hot then you can take off layers but no need to strip them down completely. Conversely, do not put on additional layers even if your child feels cold. Cool baths or sponging is NOT advised (a rebound fever can occur after this)
– Look out for signs of dehydration (sunken eyes, reduced wet nappies, dry mouth, absence of tears)
When should I worry and seek medical advice?
– If your baby has a fever and is under 3 months old
– If there is evidence of dehydration
– If you are worried about their breathing
– If they have a fit
– If there is a non-blanching rash
– If the fever lasts for more than 5 days
– If they are becoming more unwell
– If YOU are worried – you know them best!
I hope that this is helpful! If you have any questions, then please feel free to message me through my Instagram page. Unfortunately, I can’t give specific personal medical advice but happy to answer any general questions!
You can find Dr Stephanie over on Instagram @the_gp_mum