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Fever in Children

A fever is a rise above normal body temperature. Fever is a symptom, not a disease.  It is usually caused by an infection.

Not all fevers are dangerous. A fever is part of the body’s normal immune system. Higher fevers do not mean the illness is more serious; how your child looks and acts is a more important measure of the illness.

Common causes of fever include ear infections, bladder/water infections, stomach illnesses and lung illnesses. Teething does not cause serious fevers. Fevers that cause seizures are rare, generally harmless and usually cause no long-term effects. A temperature increase may be caused by warm food, exercise, too much clothing, or hot weather.   Always recheck a child’s temperature a half hour after you have determined he or she has a fever.

Always clean the thermometer with cool, soapy water and rinse.

To get a true reading, you must take your child’s temperature properly.  Please read the package instructions for your thermometer and follow these steps:

Armpit:

  • Place the tip of the thermometer in the middle of your child’s armpit.
  • Tuck the child’s arm against his/her body. Hold on to the thermometer with your hand and the child’s shoulder with your other hand.
  • Leave the thermometer in place , until you hear the “beep” (About 1 minute).
  • Read the temperature.

Mouth:

  • Carefully place the tip of the thermometer under your child’s tongue.
  • With your child’s mouth closed, leave the thermometer in place until you hear the “beep” (about 1 minute).
  • Read the temperature.

Ear

  • Use a clean probe tip each time.
  • Gently tug the ear, pulling back and down.
  • Gently insert the thermometer into the ear.
  • Press the button on your thermometer and wait until it beeps.
  • Remove the thermometer.
  • Read the temperature.

Here are some ways you can help your child if he or she  has a fever:

  • Encourage your child to drink extra fluids (i.e. popsicles and iced drinks) to stay hydrated.
  • Keep clothing loose and light, and do not bundle your child, as this may increase the fever. During a chill you can offer a light blanket.
  • If the fever is causing discomfort, give fever medication. Medicine containing acetaminophen or ibuprofen helps to reduce pain as well as fever. 
  • Carefully read the directions on the bottle/ box of the medication.
  • Always give the amount of medication directed.
  • Speak to a health care provider if you are unsure about the right dose or how to give it.

Contact your health care provider in the following situations:

CALL IMMEDIATELY IF:

  • Your child is under 3 months of age.
  • Your child appears to be and acts very ill.
  • Your child also has a rash, cough or wheeze.

CALL WITHIN 24 hours IF:

  • Your child is 3 to 6 months of age

CALL IF:

  • The fever has lasted over 24 hours with no obvious cause.
  • The fever lasts more than 3 days.
  • The fever returns within 24 hours of relief. 
  • You are concerned.

For help you can contact:

  • Newfoundland and Labrador Health Line 1-709-888-2929
  • Pediatric Telephone Advice 1-866-722-1126 or local 722-1126
  • Public/ Community Health Nurse
  • Pharmacist
  • Local Health Clinic
  • Doctor’s office

Links:


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Updated Oct 8, 2013