Richmond Practice - Running a fever

Running a fever

When is your child’s temperature too high?

If your child has a high fever, this doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is seriously ill. Fever is a sign of infection which is usually caused by a virus and sometimes by bacteria. Fever is a way in which the body fights infection and your child’s temperature will return to normal when the infection has completely gone. Bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics, whilst viral infections, which are far more common, do not need antibiotics.

Temperature guide (measured with an ear thermometer):

Normal body temperature:
  between 36 and 37.5 Celsius
Fever:   between 37.5 and 38.5 Celsius
High fever:   above 38.5 Celsius
Hyperthermia:   above 41 Celsius

What to do if your child runs a temperature
  • Dress your child in light clothing – a vest and pants or nappy for a baby will be enough. Cover them with a cotton sheet if they start to shiver.
  • Keep the room at normal temperature, or cooler, by opening the windows and use a fan to circulate air. (Do not aim the fan directly at your child.)
  • Give your child plenty of fluids to drink. Giving small amounts frequently is best. Do not worry if your child refuses to eat.
  • Sponge your child’s body and head with lukewarm water using a face flannel if they are hot, but do not let them shiver.
  • If you feel the fever is making your child very uncomfortable or irritable you can give either paracetamol or ibuprofen.

Consult your doctor if your child’s temperature:
  • continues for more than three days
  • develops a rash
  • does not respond to paracetamol or ibuprofen
  • stops eating and drinking

Call for a same-day appointment on 030 0303 5009 or email