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Caring for Fever in Children

Fever is one of the most common reasons why we see children coming to our clinics. The most common causes are usually a viral infection. Some of the most common viral infections we see are respiratory infections, diarrhoeal illnesses, Hand Foot Mouth Disease and so on.

Why do Fevers Occur?

Fever is your body's natural fighting response to viruses and bacteria. By raising the body's temperature, it activates your immune system and makes it harder for viruses and bacteria to survive in your body. Therefore, your fever is actually helping you recover. When your fever finally goes away it is usually because you have successfully eradicated the disease.

How can you manage your child's Fever?

We treat fevers in children to help them feel more comfortable. Treating the fever does not alter the natural course of fevers or help them to recover any faster. Therefore, if your child is already comfortable, you may omit giving fever medications.

For febrile children who are visibly uncomfortable, here are some tips to bring down their temperature:

1. Medications (provided your child has no allergies):
Serve the doctor prescribed dosage of paracetamol and/or ibuprofen. Paracetamol can be given every 6hours and can be given on an empty stomach. Ibuprofen should be given only after meals as they can lead to gastritis symptoms otherwise.

2. Sponge your child
This is optional but if you wish, sponge with room temperature water for 5-10mins. This is only recommended if your child's temperature is above 39.5 degree Celsius, or above 38.5 degrees Celsius in children with a history of febrile fits.
You do not need to sponge your child with ice water or cold water as that can be very uncomfortable or shocking to your child.

3. Keep your child cool with thin clothing and cool the room. Do not wrap your child in thick blankets.

4. Drink lots of fluids to avoid dehydration. Your child's rate of fluid loss increases, the higher their temperature and the longer the duration of the fever. They should be drinking more fluid than they normally do.