Fever in children: the answers to the 8 most common doubts of mothers

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The temperature of the small rises, and it is immediately panic. Fever is one of the most frequent reasons that lead parents to ask for a pediatric visit and one of the conditions that frightens them the most. So let's see how to respond to the most common doubts, following the indications of the Guidelines of the Del Paesena Society of Pediatrician on fever in children and with the help of Maurizio de Martino, a famous pediatrician.


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In this article

  • what is the best way to measure temperature?
  • 37,2 - 37,4 ° C: is it fever?
  • what are the causes of fever?
  • Does teething give you a fever?
  • high fever: are sponging useful?
  • what to do when the child has a fever?
  • antipyretics or even antibiotics?
  • when to go to the emergency room?

1. What is the best way to measure the temperature?

At home, fever is measured in the armpit with a digital thermometer. Oral and rectal measurements (invasive and annoying) should be avoided. Frontal and pacifier thermometers, less precise, are also not recommended.

2. My daughter happens to have a temperature of 37,2-37,4 ° C

For me it is fever, for my husband it is not. Who is right? Dad. According to the World Health Organization we speak of fever only above 37,5 ° C and terms such as low-grade fever or low-grade fever should be avoided for temperatures below this threshold. It must also be considered that the body temperature varies regularly over the 24 hours: lowest at dawn, highest around 17pm, when it can exceed 37 ° C.

3. What are the main causes of fever in children?

Infections, viral or bacterial. In fact, fever can be considered a physiological defense phenomenon against infections, because immunological mechanisms work better at high temperatures, while viruses and bacteria find it harder to multiply.

4. My 7 month old baby has a high fever. Could it be the erupting teeth?

There is no scientific evidence to confidently prove a relationship between tooth eruption and high fever. The studies conducted have shown at most a slight rise in temperature and only in a minority of children. The arrival of the teeth can instead give restlessness and intense salivation.

5. My little girl has a fever of 39 ° C: are cold sponging appropriate?

No: in case of fever, physical means such as sponging, exposure to cool currents, application of ice packs are to be avoided. Not only are they not needed, but they can be annoying or counterproductive: by cooling the extremities too much, they force the body to produce more heat and the temperature rises.

6. What to do when the baby has a fever?

The first indication is to remain calm and consult the pediatrician, who generally invites you to watch carefully, to see how the situation evolves.

When should drugs be given?

Antipyretic drugs should be given "only when a general malaise is associated with the fever": if the temperature is high but the child is lively, they can be avoided. If you really need a drug, you can choose between ibuprofen and paracetamol. Paracetamol is to be administered preferably by mouth, with a dosage that depends on the weight of the child: 10-15 mg / kg every 4-6 hours, up to a maximum of 60-80 mg / kg per day. Alternatively, ibuprofen can be used (but be careful: either one or the other, never combined or alternated and not under three months of life of the child). Acetylsalicylic acid and cortisone drugs should be avoided. Remember that antipyretic drugs are not used to prevent the risk of seizures.

Read also: How to lower fevers for children

7. In addition to antipyretics, is it appropriate to administer antibiotics as well?

No: the antibiotic should only be given if there is a well-founded suspicion of an infection of bacterial origin and of course it is only the doctor who can establish it. Of course, the antibiotic should not be given in case of flu or rhinitis, which are caused by viruses.

8. My baby woke up this morning with a fever of 38,5. I gave him paracetamol, but the fever still hasn't subsided by the evening. Should I take him to the emergency room?

To answer the question precisely, you need to know the age of the child. If the child with a fever is less than 28 days old, he must be taken to the emergency room and if he is between one and 12 months old, he must be examined during the day (in the emergency room or by your pediatrician). In these cases, in fact, the risk of a serious bacterial infection is quite significant. If, on the other hand, the child is older, don't be too alarmed: even a high fever can last four or five days and in general is not an indication of the severity of the disease. Only if it is accompanied by a rapid worsening of the general condition (vomiting, headache, breathing changes, extreme pallor, poor reactivity) or if it lasts for days without an apparent cause, should you consult your doctor.

See also the video on fever in children

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