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What Are the Different Causes of Fever in Children? How Do You Treat Them?

What Are the Different Causes of Fever in Children? How Do You Treat Them?

No one is exempt from having a fever, especially kids. Many children suffer from fever for different reasons. It may be an illness that is gone in three days or so, or maybe it could take longer than expected. Regardless, parents should know the causes of fever in children and when to see a doctor about it.

A fever is a high body temperature (higher than 38°C) that occurs as a natural response to fight infection. It may appear as a sign of disease or a specific condition, but it may also mean that the body is doing its job to overcome a common infection.

Your body raises your normal body temperature through a chemical reaction to prevent harmful viruses and germs from multiplying. Because viruses and bacteria can only multiply when the conditions are just right, this is a particularly effective technique to stop them.

You may check your child’s temperature through different parts of the body such as:

  • Forehead
  • Armpit area
  • Rectal area (preferably for those less than a year in age)
  • Ear area
  • Tongue

Children have a tendency to suffer from higher fevers than adults. However, the severity of your child’s illness may not be indicated by the level of fever. When a child has an increase in temperature, they may not behave like their usual self. You may notice them play and eat less or they may be fussy, cranky, and uncomfortable.

Causes of Fever in Children

Different causes of fever in children may need different ways of management and treatment from both the parent and the doctor.

The most common culprit is caused by infection— bacterial or viral. Each year, young children may experience seven to ten viral illnesses with fever, especially if they are exposed to different places and things. Bacteria come in second as a source of infection.

Some common viral or bacterial causes of fever in children are:

  • Common colds
  • Influenza and other upper respiratory health infections
  • Sinus infections
  • Chickenpox, measles, and mumps
  • Pneumonia
  • Meningitis
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Middle ear infection
  • Tonsilitis
  • Urinary tract infections (UTI)

Other causes of fever in children are:

  • Heatstroke (due to overdressing)
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Chronic joint inflammation
  • Certain medications (such as antibiotics, anti-seizure, and blood pressure medicines)
  • Blood transfusion
  • Brain disorder
  • Malignant tumor and some other kinds of cancer
  • Immunizations (diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis (DTaP) or pneumococcal vaccine)

Some of these conditions are rare and shouldn’t be a cause for concern if your child has a fever. But if symptoms persist, consult your doctor.

When To See a Doctor

It is normal for kids to have fevers every now and then. However, parents should be mindful about when they should consult the doctor. This can vary depending on the child’s symptoms and other factors such as the child’s age or other medical conditions.

In general, consult your doctor if your child experiences re-occurring fevers of 40°C or above.

In some cases, you may also give your pediatrician a call when:

  • Your child has a fever of 38°C or higher and is 3 months old or younger. High fever in younger babies could imply a dangerous infection.
  • The child has been experiencing a fever for more than a day. For kids 2 years or older, fever for more than 3 days should be addressed.
  • Parents should also pay special attention to infants (babies less than a year old). Call your doctor if your infant has a fever and cries continuously or is fussy.

Fever Treatment and Management

As a parent, you may also feel uncomfortable knowing that your child is feeling sick. Below are some tips and advice that may help you treat and manage your child on such occasions.

  • Provide enough fluids to avoid dehydration
  • Dress your child in lightweight and comfortable clothing to avoid heat exhaustion.
  • Let them rest in a room temperature area.
  • Allow your child to eat whatever they want in appropriate amounts or measurements.

If your child is feeling fussy and uncomfortable, you may give them anti-fever medicines (or pain relievers) such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Always consult your doctor first before giving any medication.

Key Takeaway

Rather than a disease itself, a fever is a symptom of other possible conditions that may occur. The causes of fever in children are many. But once the root causes of fever in children are identified, it will be easier for you to find a remedy to it.

If your child’s temperature continues to rise up, immediately contact your pediatrician and let your child be diagnosed properly.

Learn more about Child Health here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Written by Fiel Tugade Updated Oct 21
Fact Checked by Cesar Beltran