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Fever

What is fever?

Your temperature or your child’s temperature depends on where it is measured.

Method Temperature equal or higher than
Armpit 37.3° C
Oral 37.5° C
Ear (tympanic) 38.0° C
Rectal 38.0° C

Fever:

  • Helps the body fight infection
  • Occurs with most respiratory tract infections
  • Can occur with both viral and bacterial infections

Treatment:

If your child needs fever medication, or if you have any questions about fever medication uses, safety, or dosage, please contact a pharmacist or other qualified health professional.  Here are some general guidelines for fever management.

  • Do not give ASA (Aspirin®) to children under 19 years of age.
  • Dress yourself or your child in lightweight clothing so that you are cool but not shivering.  Keep room temperature about 20° C.
  • Drink plenty of cool fluids.  Offer cool fluids or popsicles to your child every hour when awake.
  • TIP:  When fever is reduced in children with viral infections, they usually feel better. Children with bacterial infections still feel miserable even when their fever is brought down.
  • For further information on Fever, please see More Fever Links.

When to seek medical attention:

Children:  See your doctor if your child has a fever and:

  • Is less than six months of age.
  • Fever lasts more than 48 hours and does not go down when acetaminophen or ibuprofen is given.
  • Fever lasts more than 3 days.
  • Has a rash.  NOTE:  If your child has a fever and a rash, consult your doctor before entering the waiting room area.  Your doctor may ask you to wait in a separate room to avoid exposing others.
  • Has vomiting and diarrhea; cannot keep fluids down.

Adults:  Adults should consult their doctor, nurse practitioner or provincial health help line if symptoms worsen or are unusually severe.


When to Worry about your child

Your child’s behavior, rather than the fever, is more important for letting you know when to worry.

Go to the emergency department if your child has a fever and any of the following symptoms:

  • Trouble breathing not caused by a stuffy nose
  • Blue lips
  • Limp or unable to move
  • Hard to wake up, unusually quiet or unresponsive
  • Stiff neck
  • Seems confused
  • Seizure