A child will develop a fever because of an infection. Usually the child will get over such an infection without the need for antibiotics. Most childhood infections are caused by viruses and these do not respond to antibiotics. The following advice will help to bring your child’s temperature down and make them feel better.
1. Always keep a supply of paracetamol syrup (Calpol, Disprol) at home. If you wait until you need it, there will be none close at hand.
2. If your child feels hot or appears unwell:
- Give the maximum dose of paracetamol stated for a child of that age.
- Dress your child in cool clothes. A lot of heat is lost through a child’s head, so leave it uncovered. Cool down the room by opening doors and windows.
- Give your child plenty of cool drinks as fluid is lost with a fever. If they are reluctant to drink, encourage small amounts from a favourite cup.
- Sponging your child down with a tepid flannel will make them feel better as well as bringing their temperature down. Using tepid water is more effective than using cold water.
- Repeat the dose of paracetamol every four hours as necessary, up to the maximum daily dose stated.
- A child with a fever is likely to be restless at night. Offer cool drinks and sponge them down if they wake.
- If your child does not improve after giving paracetamol and sponging, or appears particularly ill, call the doctor.
3. Very rarely, a child under five years will have a convulsion with a high temperature. They will shake all over and become very still. It usually subsides in less than five minutes. Lie the child on their side and stay with them while it lasts. If there is another adult in the house, ask them to phone a doctor. If not, call when the convulsion has passed.