Fever is one of the most common acute presentations in childhood, with many children presenting as only mildly unwell or agitated. A fever may be described as medical condition in which the body temperature is greater than 37 C (98.6 F). In practice, a fever is considered significant when the body temperature is above 38 C (100.4F). The hypothalamus found in the midbrain is the structure responsible for regulating the body's temperature, and performing adjustments according to activity level and time of day.
In response to an infection, illness or other cause, the hypothalamus will increase the body temperature. Researchers believe this increase in body temperature is the natural response of the body in an attempt to "fight" off infections and make the body a less comfortable place for them.
What cause a fever?
Teething: Although teething may cause a slight rise in body temperature, it will probably not be responsible for a temperature higher than 37.8 C (100 F).
It is always important to consider both the overall condition of the child and the temperature reading together. Children with a temperature less than 38.9 C (102 F) often do not require medication unless they are uncomfortable or are obviously distressed UNLESS the child is 3 months or younger. If the child is still...
- interested in playing
- eating and drinking well
- alert and smiling at you
- has a normal skin colour
...then chances are your child is alright and requires effective monitoring only. A loss of appetite alone may not indicate a serious fever, rather pay attention to the amount a child drinks and the frequency of urination.
(38 C/ 100.4 F)
(37.5 C/ 99.5 F)
(37.2 C/ 99 F)
- refuses any fluids or seems to ill to drink
- has any signs of frequent diarrhea or vomiting
- has signs of dehydration
- still has a fever after 24 hours (children younger than 2 years) or 72 hours (children older than 2 years)
- specifies a complaint (eg: sore throat)
- has a chronic medical problem such as heart disease
- has a rash
- cries inconsolably
- presents with extreme lethargy and difficulty walking
- has a stiff neck, severe headaches
- develops a rash or purple spots that look like bruises on the skin
- any difficulty breathing
- has a seizure
- has abdominal pain
- leans forward and drools