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Fever is the temporary increase in the body's temperature, in response to some disease or illness.

A child has a fever when their temperature is at or above one of these levels:
• 38 °C measured in the bottom (rectally)
• 37.5 °C measured in their mouth (orally)
• 37.2 °C measured under their arm (axillary)

An adult probably has a fever when their temperature is above 37.2 - 37.5 °C, depending on what time of the day it is. Normal body temperature may change during any given day. It is usually highest in the evening.

Brain damage from a fever generally will not occur unless the fever is over 42 °C. Untreated fevers caused by infection will seldom go over 39 °C unless the child is overdressed or trapped in a hot place. Febrile convulsions can occur in some children as a result of fever.

Almost any infection can cause a fever. Children may have a low-grade fever for one or two days after some immunisations. Teething may cause a slight increase in a child's temperature, but not higher than 37.5°C. Autoimmune or inflammatory disorders may also cause fevers. Other possible causes include medications, such as some antibiotics, antihistamines, and some seizure medicines

If the fever is mild and you have no other problems, you do not need treatment. Drink fluids and rest. Take steps to lower a fever if you or your child are uncomfortable, vomiting, dehydrated, or not sleeping well. Remember, the goal is to lower, not eliminate, the fever.

Here are some guidelines for taking medicine to lower a fever:
• Paracetamol and ibuprofen help reduce fever in children and adults ( always ask your pharmacist if you have any underlying medical conditions)
• Paracetamol can be taken every 4 - 6 hours and ibuprofen every 6 - 8 hours. DO NOT use ibuprofen in children younger than 3 months or weighing less than 5kg.
• Aspirin is very effective for treating fever in adults. DO NOT give aspirin to children under age 16.
• Always check the instructions on the package.

In children under 3 months of age, call your doctor first before giving medicines.

© Copyright MediCare 2009