FLU SEASON: How to manage the flu this winter
NOW we're well into winter, you're likely to see an upswing of colds, flu and other viruses in your children, so it's appropriate to take a look at fevers and how to manage them.
Remember that fever is a sign of illness, rather than an illness in itself.
CAUSES OF FEVER
A normal temperature range for children is 36.5-38 degrees Celsius. A fever is when your child's body temperature is higher than 38 degrees.
Children get fevers for all kinds of reasons. Most fevers and the illnesses that cause them last only a few days.
But sometimes a fever will last much longer and might be the sign of an underlying chronic or long-term illness or disease.
Infections are by far the most common cause of fever in children. In general, fever is nature's response to infection, so it's a good sign that your child's body is fighting the infection.
Most childhood infections are caused by viruses, which are responsible for common colds and other upper respiratory tract infections, as well as the common infectious diseases of childhood, such as chickenpox.
These infections don't last long and usually don't need to be treated.
During the course of each day, body temperature goes up and down by up to one degree. It's usually lowest in the early hours of the morning and highest in the late afternoon and early evening.
A fever or high temperature might come on slowly and rise over a few days or it might rise very quickly. These things usually doesn't have anything to do with the illness that causes the fever.
Fever in itself is rarely harmful. But the high temperature might make your child feel uncomfortable - they might have chills or shivering when the temperature is rising and sweat when it's falling.
When to see your doctor?
Babies under three months who develop a fever should be seen by a doctor immediately, because it's harder to tell whether they have a serious underlying illness.
In babies aged three to 12 months, fever might be a sign of a more significant illness, so seek medical advice within the same day.
In children over 12 months, seek medical attention if your child has a fever and:
- Looks sicker than before - more pale, lethargic and weak
- Has trouble breathing
- Becomes drowsy
- Refuses to drink and is passing urine less often
- Complains of a stiff neck, persistent headache or light hurting their eyes
- Vomits persistently or has frequent bouts of diarrhoea
- Doesn't improve in 48 hours
- Is causing you to worry for any other reason.
Reference: Raising Children Network
By Chris McLoughlin