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What causes fever in children?

Infections are by far the most common cause of fever in children. Most of these are caused by viruses, which are responsible for colds, upper respiratory infections, and the common infectious diseases of childhood, such as chickenpox. These infections don’t last long and usually don’t need to be treated.

In general, fever is nature’s response to infection, and can actually help the body fight infection.

Some infections are caused by bacteria, and need treatment with antibiotics. These include certain ear and throat infections, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, blood infections and meningitis. For example, a very sore throat with a fever can be caused by streptococcus. If it isn’t treated with antibiotics, this infection can lead to rheumatic fever or heart damage.

There are other, relatively uncommon, causes of fever. These include allergic reactions to drugs or vaccines, chronic joint inflammation, some tumours and gastrointestinal diseases.

See your doctor if your child has a raised temperature with other symptoms or if you are worried.

Source: Raising Children Network (fever)

Last reviewed: August 2015

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