• What to look out for

    A normal temperature is between 36 and 36.8ºC (96.8 and 98.2ºF). A temperature above 38°C (100.4°F) is high. If your child’s temperature is high, your child probably has an infection of some kind.

    Parents often worry if their child’s temperature goes above 38°C (100.4°F). However, what is more important is your child’s overall alertness and responsiveness.

    If your child is responding to you and taking drinks, even if they’re off form and not eating, you don’t need to worry. However, if your child is drowsy, not drinking or not responding to you as normal, they need to see a doctor.

    A cold or flu can cause a high temperature, but high temperatures can also be due to other infections. This is why it is important to check whether your child is alert and responding to you.

    Also, your child can still be sick even without a high temperature.  If you are worried that your child may be seriously ill, get medical help immediately even if there is no high temperature.

     

    There is a low risk of serious illness if your child:

      • is content and smiling
      • stays awake
      • is taking drinks for you
      • is responding normally to people

    There is a high risk of serious illness  if your child:

      • cannot be woken up or if woken, does not stay awake
      • has a weak or high-pitched continuous cry
      • has pale or mottled (blotchy) skin
      • keeps vomiting
      • is grunting (if they are a baby) or breathing very fast
  • What can you do

    First of all, dress your child normally.  Children with high temperatures should not be either under dressed or over wrapped.  Do not use a cool cloth or sponge to get their temperature down.

    Talk to your pharmacist and use either paracetamol or ibuprofen to reduce temperature and to relieve pain.  Paracetamol and ibuprofen can be given if a child is already on an antibiotic.  Remember, an antibiotic will not reduce a fever or relieve pain.

    With this in mind, start by giving your child either paracetamol or ibuprofen.  If the one you started with doesn’t work try giving them the other.  Both of these medicines can be given together safely, provided you do not exceed the recommended dose for your child’s weight.  Click on the document available here, for more information.

  • When to seek help

    High temperature in a child may be a cause for concern but is rarely a reason to panic.  However, if your child is drowsy, not drinking or not responding to you as normal, they need to see a doctor even if their temperature is normal. Call your GP surgery for advice as soon as possible.

    Your child could have a serious illness if the child:

    • cannot be woken up or does not stay awake
    • has a weak or high-pitched continuous cry
    • has pale or mottled (blotchy) skin
    • keeps vomiting
    • is grunting (if they are a baby) or breathing very fast

    If you see any of these signs in your child, phone your GP, visit the nearest Emergency Department, or phone an ambulance on 999 or 112.  If in doubt, it is always best to get medical advice.

    You can find your nearest hospital, GP or pharmacist on the HSE website’s Service Map pages.

     

    As you can probably guess, this website can never replace the advice you might get from a health professional. If you are worried about your child, please call or visit your GP or pharmacist.

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