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Children’s Fevers and How to Treat Them

Fevers are common childhood ailments that affect millions of children daily. While compared with adults, children get fever more frequently. The good news is that parents can easily treat their children’s fevers at home without having to visit a doctor or hospital.

Fever comes from our body’s attempt to fight off infection. When a child gets sick, his/her temperature rises due to inflammation caused by bacteria or viruses. During a fever, the body produces chemicals called pyrogens that trigger the production of white blood cells and increase the flow of blood through the capillaries. These actions prepare the body for fighting off infections. Some people have a higher resistance to fever than others. Fevers may cause redness and swelling around the nose and mouth. A fever usually goes away in 1 to 3 days, but fevers are uncomfortable and unpleasant for both kids and parents.

Parents often try to reduce fever symptoms by giving their child cold drinks, ice packs, or Tylenol (paracetamol). These methods might temporarily relieve pain and discomfort, but they won’t cure the problem. In addition, these treatments can cause other health problems such as an upset stomach upset or dehydration. Instead, parents should focus on treating the root cause of fever

What conditions can cause a fever?

There are many different types of infections that can lead to high temperatures. Some of them include:

  • Viral infections:  Common viral infections that can cause fever include chickenpox (varicella), influenza, mononucleosis, measles, mumps, rubella, and shingles.
  • Bacterial infections: Bacteria can also cause fever. Examples include strep throat, pneumonia, scarlet fever, and whooping cough.
  • Parasitic infections: Parasites can cause fever. Some parasites include malaria, hookworm, pinworms, roundworms, tapeworms, and whipworms.
  • Fungal infections: Fungi can cause fever. They may come in the form of ringworm, athlete’s foot, jock itch, diaper rash, thrush, and yeast infections.

What are the symptoms that my child may have a fever?

The most obvious symptom of a fever is a higher-than-normal body temperature. Other signs and symptoms of a fever include:
  • Redness around the eyes and cheeks
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing
It’s important to monitor your child’s temperature closely during and after treatment with any type of fever remedy. If you notice any of the above symptoms, contact your pediatrician immediately. It’s best to consult your doctor before administering any over-the-counter medications. Your doctor will need to confirm whether your child has a fever before prescribing medication.

Alarming Signs

A child is considered to have a fever when their temperature is greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (measured rectally), 99 degrees Fahrenheit (measured under the arm) or 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit (measured orally). A fever over 101 degrees Fahrenheit, or 37.8 degrees Celsius measured from anywhere, is considered severe. It means that the child needs medical care immediately. A fever under 101 degrees isn’t necessarily safe, but should not go untreated. Kids with fevers below 101 degrees should drink plenty of fluids and avoid strenuous exercise. Most fevers last between 24 hours and three days. The length of time depends on several factors including the type of infection and how strong the immune system is.

Want to learn some tips for boosting your child’s immune system? Check out this helpful blog post.

Treatment of Fever in Children

If your child has a fever, it’s essential to take steps to prevent complications. Here are some simple guidelines to follow when treating a fever:

  • Keep your child hydrated by offering him/her plenty of fluids. Offer water, juice, milk, soup, broth, tea, or popsicles. Avoid sugary beverages like soda.
  • Make sure your child doesn’t become dehydrated. Offer sips of cool water instead of large amounts of liquid. Check the color of your child’s urine. Yellow indicates that he/she isn’t getting enough fluid.
  • Give your child Tylenol (paracetamol) if he/she has a fever. This medication is available without a prescription at drugstores and pharmacies. Ask your pharmacist about dosage recommendations for children.
  • Do not give aspirin or antibiotics to your child unless directed by your doctor. Aspirin can be dangerous to children because it can cause bleeding inside the brain. Do not give aspirin or ibuprofen to infants under six months old.

Home Remedies for High Fever Treatment in Children

While there are no home remedies for fever, you can help ease your child’s discomfort. Below are three effective ways to treat a fever naturally at home:
1. Ice Therapy
Ice therapy involves placing your child in front of a fan while wearing ice packs. This method helps to lower the child’s body temperature. The goal is to keep the skin from heating up too much.
2. Cold Compresses
Cold compresses involve soaking cotton balls or cloth in cold water. Place the wet compress against your child’s forehead and neck. Change the cold compress every 30 minutes.

When should I call my child's healthcare provider?

Call your child’s healthcare provider if your child has a high fever (over 101 degrees) for more than 24 hours. He/she will want to know how long your child has been febrile, what other symptoms your child has had, and if your child seems to be improving. 

You should always seek medical attention for your child if he/she has any of these symptoms:

  • Seizures
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Very low blood pressure or heart rate
  • Lethargy
  • Unusual sleep patterns
  • Skin rash
  • Swollen glands

How to Prevent Fever in Kids

1. Keep Your Child Hydrated
Drinking plenty of fluids helps flush toxins out of the body. It also prevents diarrhea and constipation, which can lead to dehydration. Dehydration makes your child more susceptible to getting a fever. If your child isn’t drinking enough liquids, give him/her small sips of juice or milk instead of just plain water.
2. Eat Well-Balanced Meals
Your child needs protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber to stay strong and healthy. A balanced diet provides all of those things. However, most people eat too many processed foods that contain sugar and unhealthy fats. To avoid getting sick, stick to whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, oats, and barley. Try adding fresh fruit and veggies to your child’s plate. They provide essential nutrients that help build strong bones and muscles.
3. Exercise Regularly
Exercise keeps your child fit and active. It also boosts her/his immunity. laying outside or riding bikes stimulates blood flow and improves circulation. This increases oxygen levels in the body and reduces the risk of infections.

Key Takeaways

Fever is one of the most common childhood illnesses. It usually lasts 1 to 3 days, but sometimes it may last longer. Fever occurs as a result of the immune system working to fight off infection. Fevers in children should not go untreated. While there are many ways a fever can be managed and treated at home, children dealing with fevers should visit a doctor.

Use to find walk-in clinics in your area and access the care you need. 

About the author

Dr Adil Maqbool

Dr Adil Maqbool

Dr. Adil is an accomplished medical writer, researcher, and doctor. He has published numerous papers in renowned medical journals and is recognized as an expert in the field. He is highly sought after for his medical writing, research, and patient care expertise. He takes great pride in his work and strives to stay up-to-date with the latest medical developments.

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