If your child has a temperature of over 102°F or 39°C, he or she is suffering from fever and needs urgent care. You can help the child by following these instructions quickly to help bring the temperature down:
- Keep your child and the room he or she is in cool, even if child is shivering
- Take off the child's clothes down to their nappy or underwear. Clothes trap heat next to the body and help maintain the fever
- Give the child paracetamol in suppository or liquid form regularly in full dose, and remember to follow the instructions on the package carefully. Do not give aspirin to children under the age of 12 years
- Try to get your child to take cold drinks or to suck ice cubes or ice-lollies.
If your child has a temperature of over 101 °F or 38.5°C, you can also help to bring his or her temperature down by sponging with lukewarm water. Do not use cold water.
You may find it easier to put your child in a shallow bath of lukewarm water while you sponge him or her down. Do this for about half an hour. Ten minutes after you have stopped, take the child's temperature again, and hopefully it will have gone down. Don't continue to bathe or sponge the child if they object or find it unpleasant.
It is important that a child with a fever has plenty to drink. Cool drinks also help to bring down a temperature. You may find it very difficult to get an upset and irritable child to drink anything. Fortunately, children will usually accept sweet things, so if your child refuses cool liquids offer jellies, ice cubes and ice-lollies instead. These all contain lots of water and help to make sure the child has enough fluid, as well as helping to cool him or her down.
Some children under the age of five years react badly to having a raised temperature. About one in every 20 children under five years of age will have a febrile convulsion or fit when their temperatures go up. This is generally the only time that fever is dangerous and requires treatment.
Some children have more than one fit. It happens because the part of the brain, which controls temperature, is not yet fully developed in very young children. By the time they reach five, the brain has developed enough so that children grow out of these febrile convulsions.
Don't worry, just because your child has a febrile convulsion does not mean that they have epilepsy. It is rare for these febrile convulsions to seriously affect a child's health.
- The child goes stiff and will twitch, jerk and shake. The child will lose consciousness (pass out) and will be unaware of what is going on
- The child's eyes will roll upwards and their breathing maybe noisy
- There may be froth on the child's 'lips
- The child may be sick
- The child's teeth will be tightly clenched
- The child may wet or dirty .themselves
- The fit starts without warning
- It usually lasts for only a few minutes.
A febrile convulsion is not the same as a toddler's breath-holding tantrum. If your child has a fit you must try to keep calm, and it helps if you know what to do.
- Don't panic! Remember, most fits last for less than five minutes. A few minutes can seem like a very long time when you are frightened
- Move hard or sharp objects away from the child to prevent he or she hurting themselves
- Loosen any tight clothing around the neck
- Don't try to keep the child still
- Keep the child on his/her side
- Don't put anything into the child's mouth
- If there is someone with you, tell them to call the doctor
- If you are alone, stay with your child
- You should call the doctor after the fit has stopped.
If the fit goes on for longer than five minutes, carry the child with you to the phone or to get help from a neighbour. Ring for an ambulance and then call your doctor.
- The child will be sleepy, so let them sleep
- Lie him or her on their side with the chin lifted up, away from their chest .. . Mop out any sick from the mouth
- Take their temperature
- Make sure they are kept cool.
Rather than panic at the first signs of a flushed face, it is better to try to recognise the above signs. Your worry may be more of a problem than the child's fever!
If you know what to look for and what to do you can really help your child. But if you still have any worries or questions about your child's health you should ask your GP.
What is immunisation?
(Also known as Vaccination) Immunisation is a safe and effective way to help the body prevent or fight off certain diseases.
Why is it important?
Because it will protect your child against diseases that can cause serious illness and even death.
Where do you go for immunisation?
Most family doctors now have a contract with the Health Board to provide the primary childhood immunisation programme free to babies. During its lifetime the child will receive other immunisations.
What is a contagious disease?
A contagious disease is one that spreads through contact with an infected person.
What is meant by " Incubation Period"?
When a person catches an illness, the bacteria or virus causing it must enter and become established in the body some time before the symptoms show. The time between contact with the disease and the actual onset of symptoms is known as the incubation period.