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When is a fever in a child dangerous?

Fever is a very common childhood condition. It’s normally not serious and is over quickly.

But how do you know when a child’s fever is dangerous? In this article, we take a look at when you should seek medical attention for a child with fever at a dangerous temperature.

We also outline how to care for a child with fever at home and describe some serious childhood illnesses with fever as one of their symptoms.

Once you’ve read this article, you should be confident about knowing when to treat a child with fever at home and when to seek medical assistance.

What is fever in children?

A fever is defined by a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or more. It’s a sign that the body is fighting an infection.

You may also notice these symptoms when your child has a fever:

  • Your child feels hot.
  • Their skin appears flushed.
  • They may be sweaty.
  • Your child may be shivering.
  • They may have a headache or other pains.
  • They may be dehydrated.
  • Your child may feel weak.

How can I treat my child with a fever?

You can care for your child with a fever at home by:

When does a child’s fever get dangerous?

You should also recognise when a child’s fever is dangerous. Seek medical help when:

  • Your baby under three months of age develops a fever.
  • Fever lasts more than five days.
  • Fever is higher than 40 degrees Celsius.
  • Your child has a “febrile convulsion”. This is a seizure caused by a rise in temperature.
  • Your child is very drowsy.
  • Your child is dehydrated. You can recognise this in babies if they aren’t producing four wet nappies a day. Older children should be urinating at least every eight to 12 hours.

What are some serious childhood illnesses with fever?

Some illnesses have fever as one of their symptoms. If you suspect your child has a serious condition, seek medical help right away.

Meningitis

Meningitis is when the lining that covers the brain and spinal cord becomes inflamed. The early symptoms include:

  • Severe leg pains
  • Cold hands or feet, even when the child has a fever
  • Mottled or pale skin
  • Pale or blue appearance of the skin around the lips

A rash may or may not develop with meningitis. When you press a clear glass against the spots, they do not fade.

Babies may also develop a bulging fontanelle (the soft spot on their head).

Older children may have a stiff neck, a dislike of bright lights, vomiting and confusion.

Children of any age may develop a fever.

You can learn more about recognising the symptoms of meningitis on the Meningitis Centre Australia website.

Pneumonia

Pneumonia is an infection of the lung or lungs. The small airways get congested with mucus. This means that less oxygen can get into the body. Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • A wet cough
  • Trouble breathing
  • Tummy ache
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness

Get your child checked out by a doctor if they are showing these symptoms. They may need prescribed medicine or a stay in hospital.

Appendicitis

The appendix is a small pouch in the lower right area of the abdomen. It can become blocked and inflamed. Sometimes it bursts, causing a serious infection. Signs of appendicitis include:

  • Fever
  • Pain that starts around the belly button and moves to the right side of the abdomen
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain when urinating and urinating more often
  • Increased heart rate

If you think your child may have appendicitis, see a doctor straight away. They will require surgery — the earlier the better to avoid rupture of the appendix.

We’re here to help care for your family

When your child has a fever, it can be scary. But you can take the fear away by learning about the signs of serious illness to look for.

It’s also good to know that FeverMates is here to help care for your family! You can browse our wide range of products to help you with your child’s fever.

And don’t forget to take a look at our products designed to help keep you healthy like hand sanitiser and face masks. They can reduce your contact with the germs that cause fevers and other illnesses.

We believe that it’s the simple things in life that count — and that includes our easy-to-use fever management and hygiene products!

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