If your child has a fever, he or she will have a body temperature above 38°C (100.4°F). Your child may also feel tired, look pale, have a poor appetite, be irritable, have a headache or other aches and pains and feel generally unwell. Take the temperature from the armpit (always use the thermometer under the armpit with children under five, never use it in the mouth). However, bear in mind that these measurements are less accurate as the armpit is slightly cooler.
A fever is part of the body’s natural response to fight infection and can often be left to run its course provided your child is drinking enough and is otherwise well. If your child is having trouble drinking, trying to reduce their temperature may help with this. This is important in preventing your child from becoming dehydrated, which can lead to more serious problems. As a guide, your child’s urine should be pale yellow - if it is darker, your child may need to drink more fluids.
Fevers are common in young children. They are usually caused by viral infections and clear up without treatment. However, a fever can occasionally be a sign of a more serious illness such as a severe bacterial infection of the blood (septicaemia), urinary tract infection, pneumonia or meningitis.
You should contact your GP if fever symptoms are not improving after 48 hours. Check your child during the night.
Always seek medical advice if your child develops a fever soon after an operation, or soon after travelling abroad.