'Fever' simply describes a high body temperature and can often suggest an underlying infection.
As a general rule, a temperature of over 37.5°C (99.5°F) in children or adults is classed as a fever. You can check yours or your child’s temperature with a home thermometer, either on the forehead, underarm or in the mouth.
Keeping yourself cool and taking paracetamol or ibuprofen is usually all that’s needed to help reduce a fever. As a parent it can be worrying if your child has a high temperature, however, fevers are very common. However, fevers are very common in children and will usually get better without treatment.
Normal body temperature is 37°C (98.6°F), but does vary slightly. Your temperature may be 0.6°C (1°F) above or below this, and can vary throughout the day, depending on the time of day and how active you are.
Fevers can be caused by:
A fever helps the body fight infections by stimulating the immune system (the body’s natural defense against infection and illness). By increasing the body’s temperature, a fever makes it more difficult for the bacteria and viruses that cause infections to survive.
In most cases, fever is due to a common and harmless illness and will get better by itself within around 5 days.
If you have a fever, the following steps will help you to treat it:
If your child isn’t distressed by the fever or underlying illness then children’s painkillers may not be necessary. Always be sure to read the information leaflet for the medication to ensure you use the correct dosage for your child’s age.
Here to help If your child seems to be well, other than having a high temperature (for example if they are playing and attentive as usual), it is less likely that they are seriously ill.
Potentially serious causes of fever are rare. However, if you are worried and think your baby or child has a serious illness which is persisting and not responding to treatment with paracetamol or ibuprofen, it’s important to get medical attention as soon as possible.
Contact your GP or call 111 for quick medical advice if you or your child have a fever along with any of the following:
If you're concerned about yourself, a relative or friend, call NHS 111 for medical advice, this free service is available 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
The advisors taking 111 calls are in the same room as those answering 999 calls, so if urgent attention is needed, they can arrange it immediately for you.
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This website was created in 2015 by West Hampshire CCG in order to support local people to manage minor illness and injury.