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Fever in children infographic (text only)

2-minute read

Fever in children

What is a fever?

A temperature of 38°C or higher is a fever. It's usually a sign of illness, such as an infection.

Types of thermometer

Digital: Quick to use, accurate and suitable for oral, armpit or anal readings. Always use a digital thermometer under the armpit with children younger than 5.

Ear (tympanic): Placed in the child's ear canal, ear thermometers are quick to use but must be carefully positioned for an accurate reading.

Touchless (forehead) thermometer: Inaccurate if not placed correctly. This measures the child's temperature using an infrared reading of an artery in the forehead. The thermometer does not touch the skin.

Pain relief medicines and children

  • Avoid pain relief medicines unless the child is in pain or discomfort.
  • Children aged 1 month or older may take paracetamol.
  • Children aged 3 months or older (and weighing more than 5kg) may take paracetamol or ibuprofen.

Decision tree: What should I do?

  • If your child has a temperature of 38°C or higher…
  • Is your child aged 0 – 3 months?
    • YES - See a doctor immediately
  • Is your child more than 3 months old?
    • YES - Does your child have any of these symptoms as well as a fever? Headache or stiff neck, drowsiness, seizure, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhoea, new skin rash, dehydration.
      • YES - See a doctor immediately
      • NOT SURE? - Call healthdirect on 1800 022 222
      • NO - Manage fever at home. If your child is older than 3 months and seems well, you can treat them at home: - Keep fluids up - Dress in light clothing - Keep the room cool - Consider pain relief.

This infographic does not replace the advice of your doctor or pharmacist. Read the label on the packet and information pamphlet before using medicines. For further information, call healthdirect on 1800 022 222 or speak to your health professional. In an emergency, call triple zero (000) without delay.

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