Fever in children


Fever is one of the body’s ways of defending itself against infections caused by viruses or bacteria. Children get a slight fever, but that does not mean that they are particularly ill. The important thing is how the child feels otherwise.

The body temperature may vary slightly between different children. It is usually considered fever if the temperature is 38.0 degrees Celsius or higher. The important thing is to focus on how the child is feeling otherwise.

Fever may be a sign of a more serious illness, but it is uncommon.

About fever in children

Some children may be temporarily confused when they have a fever. It is usually called that they are buzzing. They can see, hear and feel things that are not in reality or perceive the surroundings in a different way. Both you and the child may find it uncomfortable, but the confusion is harmless and usually goes away after a while.

Then you take the temp

There are several ways to measure the baby’s temperature, but not all are safe.

You can measure the temp in the ear or the tail. In children up to one year, measurement in the tail is recommended.

Thermometers are available at pharmacies. To measure in the ear you need a special ear thermometer. Read the instructions on the packaging or ask the pharmacist for advice.

If possible, allow the child to rest for half an hour before measuring the temperature. Use the same measurement method every time. Take the temp in the morning and afternoon and write down the results.

Then you measure in the ear

Insert a disposable cover over the ear thermometer lens. Carefully pull the child’s ear upwards before inserting the thermometer. It is important that you place the thermometer so that the ear canal closes tightly around it. Otherwise, you may get too low values. The lens does not reach as far as the eardrum, but it is the heat from the eardrum inside the ear that is measured.

Then you measure in the tail

Put some oily ointment or oil on the thermometer so that it slides more easily into the rectum opening. The thermometer must be inserted one to two centimeters in order for the temperature to be measured correctly. For children up to six months, only the outermost tip is inserted. It is important that the child is still when the temp is to be taken, so as not to hurt.

Clean the thermometer after each use.

When and where should I seek care?

The fever itself is not dangerous, but it is the cause of the fever that the child may need to see a doctor for. The fever often goes away by itself.

Seek medical care directly at a medical center, pediatrician or emergency room for the child

  • is younger than three months and has a temperature of 38.0 degrees or higher.
  • is between three and six months and has a temperature of 39.0 degrees or higher.
  • has a fever and seems very ill.
  • have a fever for the first time.
  • have a fever and seem to be hurting somewhere or crying inconsolably.
  • do not want to drink at all or have signs of dehydration, such as the dry mouth or kissing them less than usual.

Seek care at a health care center if the child still has a fever after four days.

What can I do myself to help the child?

A child who has a fever needs to be at home to rest and recover. They do not need to rest in bed, but should not exert themselves physically. The best thing is to let the child decide how much they can handle.

Children with fever should drink frequently

A child who has a fever needs to drink more than usual. Otherwise, they can easily become dehydrated. For example, give the child water, juice or juice. If the child has been drinking too little, they may become tired, hungry and pee less than usual. A child should pee several times a day.

Sometimes children with a fever do not want to eat regular food. There is no danger if the child has a little reduced appetite for a few days. Give the child something they like to eat and drink.

Make it comfortable for the child

It is common for children to shiver and freeze as the fever rises. They can also sweat. Try to adjust clothes and bedding to the child’s temperature. When the child has a high fever, it can be nice if it is cool in the room. But it should not be cold. You can remove blankets and quilts for short moments, or let your child sleep with a thin sheet instead of a quilt.

Provide medication for fever if needed

Fever is one of the body’s ways of defending and fighting infections. Therefore, do not treat a fever in a child who is otherwise well.

You can give non-prescription antidepressants if your child is naughty, does not want to eat or drink, or has difficulty resting at night.

  • You can give medicines containing paracetamol to children from three months of age. 
  • You can give medicines containing ibuprofen from the age of six months. Do not give ibuprofen for chickenpox due to the risk of complications.

The drugs are available in several different forms that are suitable for children, such as orodispersible tablets and solutions. Ask a pharmacy what is right for your child.

Follow the instructions on the package carefully and do not combine different medicines.

You can read more about medicine in the package leaflet that comes with the package.

Giving medicines to children

Prescription drugs for temporary pain

Does the child need antibiotics?

Sometimes the child may be given antibiotics to treat the infection that causes the fever. Antibiotics can help if the infection is caused by bacteria, but not by viruses.

Should the child stay at home?

Children who attend, for example, preschool, open preschool or school should stay at home until they are fever-free. Children should be adept enough to be able to participate in group activities for a full day before returning to preschool or school.

Can fever in children be prevented?

The most common cause of fever is that the child has an infection that is due to viruses or bacteria. Fever itself cannot be prevented, but you can reduce the risk of the child being infected by infections. Infections are transmitted through very small droplets in the air and during body contact.

It is difficult to avoid infecting children, but there are ways to reduce the risk of infection spreading:

  • Wash your own and baby’s hands frequently. Before and after each meal and after a toilet visit.
  • Teach the child to sneeze in the arms fold.
  • Teach the child not to poke in the nose or eyes, because viruses get stuck there easily.
  • Let the child stay outdoors as much as possible, even in winter. Viruses spread more easily indoors.

Tobacco smoke leads to more respiratory infections

Children who are in environments where they breathe tobacco smoke more often get respiratory infections than children in smoke-free environments. Tobacco smoke can affect the mucous membrane of the respiratory tract so that infection more easily occurs. Avoid environments where people smoke.

Young children often get infections

Children have the easiest to get infections between seven and eighteen months of age. For up to six months, children have some innate protection in the form of antibodies that they receive from the mother during the end of pregnancy.

Children up to about two or three years can have up to twelve viral infections per year.

Investigation to find the cause of the fever

The doctor first examines how the baby is feeling. The baby often gets to sit in your lap while the doctor looks in your neck and ears and listens to your heart and lungs. The doctor also feels on the neck and neck. Sometimes the baby may lie down and the doctor feels on his stomach. Sometimes the doctor also examines muscles and joints.

The doctor may sometimes need to take samples to examine what kind of infection the child has. A swallowing test can show if the child has streptococci, so-called throat flux bacteria. Sometimes a urine sample or a blood sample is also taken by sticking in the finger or arm fold.  

If needed, the child is referred to a pediatric clinic, where more examinations are sometimes performed.

This is how fever works

The body regulates its own temperature and works best with a temperature of between 36.0 and 38.0 degrees. The body temperature varies over the day. It is usually low at night and high in the afternoon.

Fever is the body’s normal response to infections caused by viruses or bacteria. To protect against viruses and bacteria, the temperature is raised. Viruses and bacteria multiply in temperatures above 37.0 degrees.

Fever is common in viral infections such as colds, coughs and sore throats.

Fever seizures are uncommon

It happens that children get fever cramps when they have a fever. Most children never have cramps, even if the fever becomes high. It may look uncomfortable when the baby gets seizures, but it is harmless.

When a child has a fever for the very first time, seek care for the child directly at a health care center or emergency room. It is necessary to rule out that the cramp has other causes than just the fever.

Influence and participate in your care

You can seek care at any medical center or open specialist clinic you want throughout the country. Sometimes a referral  to the open specialized care is required.

You should understand the information

In order for you to be involved in your care and treatment, it is important that you conjecture the information you receive from the healthcare staff. Ask questions if you don’t understand. For example, you should get information about treatment options and how long you may have to wait for care and treatment.

Children should also be involved in their care. The older the child, the more important it is.

You have the opportunity to get help from an interpreter if you have a hearing loss. 

If you need tools, you should get information about what is available and how to get it.

Your consent is important

Once you have received information about what options and options for the care you have, you can give your consent or in some other way express a yes. This also applies to you who are not of legal age.  

You may choose not to give your consent to the care you are offered. You may also withdraw your consent at any time.

You can get a new medical assessment

You may get a new medical assessment from another doctor if you have a life-threatening or particularly serious illness. Obtaining another doctor’s assessment can help you, for example, if you are unsure of which treatment or treatment is best for you.

You can get regular health care contact

If you have contact with many different people within the care, you can have permanent care contact. It is a person who among other things helps to coordinate your care.

Children should be able to participate 

There is no age limit for when a child can have an influence over their care. The child’s ability to participate in related to the child’s maturity.

The older the child, the more important it is for them to be involved in their care. In order to be active in the care and to make decisions, it is important that you as an adult and the child understand the information you receive from the care staff.


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