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Symptoms of high fever in children

Fever is a rise in the general body temperature due to many reasons including illness. Normal body temperature depends on person-to-person; however, it mostly falls in the range 98.6 F to 99 F. In normal cases of adults, fever is usually uncomfortable but is not a serious concern unless the temperatures rage as high 103 F or more. However, children and infants are different, and in them, even slightly high temperatures may indicate an underlying illness or a health issue, but in most cases, it is an easily treatable and common infection. 

Fever generally is not life-threatening unless it soars to as high as 107 F when measured rectally.

Fever in children may be caused due to multiple reasons such as below:

  • Bacterial infections in the ear, lung, throat, bladder or kidney
  • Viral infections
  • Medications
  • Illicit drugs
  • Allergies
  • Inflammatory diseases (very rare)
  • Immunizations

While the symptoms of fever are fairly common among children of all ages and gender, yet in rare cases, they might intensify with the condition. That said, some general symptoms of high fever in children include:

  • Warm or hot body feel
  • Excessive sweating
  • Chills
  • Shivering
  • Severe headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abnormalities in feeding
  • Excessive and unexplained weeping
  • Irritability and fussiness
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of energy
  • Body ache
  • Acute weakness
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Unexplained anxiety
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Muscle pain
  • Dehydration

Children up to 5 years of age, also display febrile seizures in cases of high fever.

In many cases, the symptoms are mild and often fade away with medications or otherwise. But parents should keep emergency contacts handy and should call a doctor in cases these symptoms are present with:

  • A child younger than 6 months
  • Temperatures are rising not declining
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Tented skin
  • Sunken eyes
  • Blue lips
  • Stiff neck
  • Leaning forward and drooling
  • Limpness or refusal to move
  • Conditions are worsening even after medications
  • Seizure
  • Pain while peeing
  • Rash on skin
  • Severe stomach ache
  • Temperatures are varying by day and night consistently
  • Fever lasts longer than 72 hours in 2 years or older kids
  • Fever lasts longer than 24 hours in children below 2 years of age
  • Chronic disease including heart problem
  • Extreme pain in ears or throat

In some cases, you might even have to take the child in an emergency to a medical centre if the symptoms and accompanying factors continue to worsen the condition and the child’s health is deteriorating.

However, in conditions where the child’s body temperature is high but also drops low with medications and the overall condition and activeness are considerably fine, there may not be a reason to worry. Some cases to look out for that could ease your stress when your child is/has:

  • Playing joyfully
  • Eating and drinking well
  • Alert and cheerful
  • Normal skin colour

Also, in many cases losing appetite in fever is a normal sign and not a cause of worry if the child is drinking and urinating fine.

To check the body temperature, you can feel the forehead or otherwise use a digital thermometer to assess the child’s body temperature. Body temperature can be checked via two methods:

  • By placing the thermometer under the arm (axillary position) – 99 F
  • By placing the thermometer in the mouth (orally) – 100 F
  • By placing the thermometer in the bottom (rectally) – 100.4 F

Even if the temperature is high, sometimes fever is not an indication of how sick the child is; as mentioned it depends on the overall activity and activeness of the child. In many cases, the child might recover automatically in a day or two and other cases, simple medications can help. Not all fevers need to be treated, in fact even in case of high fevers – treatment should be taken if the child is showing serious symptoms or is in discomfort.

Moreover, you can also try some home remedies to soothe the body temperatures. Such measure can include:

  • Covering your child with lightweight clothes and covering with a light sheet or blanket
  • Make the room comfortable with a suitable temperature (not too hot or cold)
  • Give plenty of water and fluids to avoid dehydration
  • Avoid carbonated drinks, caffeine, tea, etc.
  • Let the child rest and take it easy, however, all day long resting is not needed

While any discomfort to the child is extremely disheartening for the parents, hence, it is always advisable to know the causes, symptoms, and treatment for high fever. One should also know when not to worry, as well as when to call for medical help.

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