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Fighting Fever in Children

Updated on March 8, 2011

Fever can be distressing


It can be distressing to watch a child who is feeling sick and has a

high temperature. Often the first thing we want to do is ‘make it go

away’ so the child is no longer in pain. Symptoms such as a fever,

however disagreeable, serve a purpose. Suppressing them immediately

with medication is not always in the child’s best interest.


Fever may be beneficial when it comes to fighting infection, according to new advice from paediatricians


The AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics urges parents to recognise fever as a sign that the body is working to fight infection and not something to be feared. This relates to parents reaching for fever reducing agents, antipyretics, to help keep the child’s temperature “normal”.


What is a Fever?

If your child contracts an infection, the fever that accompanies it has a purpose. The body tries to create extra heat so that the foreign organism cannot survive. Having a temperature helps you fight illness. Fever is part of the body’s defence mechanism against viruses or bacteria. Fever indicates the repair mechanisms of the body are working and healing is occurring. Immediately suppressing a child’s fever with medication may interfere with the natural healing processes and delay the child’s recovery. A fever should always be monitored and watched carefully. If you

have concerns that your child is not getting better or the fever appears serious it is always important to check with your health care professional.


Recommendations in the UK


The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommend not to routinely give antipyretic drugs to a child with fever with the sole aim of reducing body temperature, and not to use antipyretic agents with the sole aim of preventing febrile convulsions.


Antipyretic drugs include Calpol/paracetamol, neurofen/ibuprofen and other similar formulations


Tepid sponging and overdressing or undressing the child is also not recommended for fever.



Care at home


NICE recommends the following care at home:

Advise parents and carers:

– of the antipyretic interventions available

– to offer their child regular fluids (if breastfeeding then continue as normal)

– to look for signs of dehydration:

◆ sunken fontanelle

◆ dry mouth

◆ sunken eyes

◆ absence of tears

◆ poor overall appearance

– to encourage their child to drink more fluids and consider seeking further advice if they see signs of dehydration

– how to identify a non-blanching rash

– to check their child during the night

– to keep their child away from nursery/school while the fever persists and to notify the

nursery/school of the illness.

● Advise parents and carers to seek further advice if:

– the child has a fit

– the child develops a non-blanching rash

– they feel that the child’s health is getting worse

– they are more worried than when they last received advice

– the fever lasts longer then 5 days

–         they are distressed or concerned that they are unable to look after their child.


Read further advice from NICE


The proper handling, storage and dosage of fever medications is paramount.  They must be given at the correct time and correct dose for the child’s weight and health. As the highest medication overdose in children’s A&E seem to be for the formulation of these anti-fever drugs. A high percentage of these cases is due to accidental self overdose by the children self administering these medications.


To prevent accidental overdose these medication must be stored out of reach of children and an accurate measuring device must be kept in the household in order to use these medications safely.



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