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What signs should I look for if my child has a fever?

Answered by Dr Ellie Cannon
8th September 2015

Fevers are common in young children and are often mild.  If your child is playing and alert, that’s usually a good sign they’re not too poorly.

However, occasionally a fever can mean something more serious than a common virus. Some signs of a more serious underlying condition include:

  • Less than three months old with a fever of 38ºC or above
  • Between three and six months with a fever of 39ºC or above
  • Extreme tiredness, listlessness, drowsiness and floppiness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Rash
  • A fever that lasts five or more days, even with paracetamol or ibuprofen 

Though serious causes of fever are rare, it’s best to be safe. If your little one is poorly, use your judgement, because you know your child best. Don’t hesitate to contact a doctor if you’re concerned.

Fevers can sometimes cause seizures in children under five. While distressing, they are not necessarily cause for alarm. If your child has a seizure, lay them on their side and don’t put anything in their mouth. If you think they are choking on food or an object, try to remove it.

Most seizures stop within three minutes. When it’s over, make your child comfortable and call your doctor. If it is your child’s first seizure, or if it does not stop within three minutes, take him/her to the A&Es or call for emergency help.

 
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