A raised temperature is the body’s way of activating the immune system in response to an infection or illness, and is in fact a positive indicator that your child is fighting the infection. It is therefore best to treat the discomfort caused by the condition, rather than medicating too soon, which will suppress the body’s natural response.
This is particularly true for immunisation as it is important to raise the body temperature slightly to get the required effect. Many clinics recommend giving an appropriate paracetemol dose before the immunisation appointment. If your baby develops additional symptoms, such as painful legs, then the discomfort should be treated.
In cases where a baby has had a fever-related fit (febrile seizure) before, parents are naturally anxious that this will happen again. However studies have shown that the fever does not necessarily trigger the fit, but that the brain may have a lower susceptibility to convulsions. A fit may even occur before you are even aware of the fever. The good news is that febrile seizures do not cause long-term problems such as brain damage or epilepsy.
However there are certain situations where you should visit your doctor immediately:
- A continuous temperature of 37.5˚C
- Babies under three months
- Not eating and drinking normally
- Fast and noisy breathing
- Fever lasting more than 48 hours
- Abnormal behaviour e.g. sleepy, no energy, not interested to play, etc
- Convulsions - you should inform your doctor to exclude the possibility of meningitis
A few things to remember:
- Use a proper measuring unit such as a syringe or medicine spoon to ensure that the correct dose is given.
- Do not mix cough syrups or flu medicines with fever medication as they contain similar ingredients and this could cause an overdose.
- Do not give Ibuprofen to children with chickenpox.
- Do not give aspirin to children under 12 years.