Fever is not dangerous; if the child’s general condition is good. A child with fever should be undressed and have plenty of fluid. You should call the doctor immediately, if the child is drowsy or has trouble breathing.
Fever is a sign of illness but does not say anything about how serious the illness is.
A child that plays, watches TV or listens to the radio is very rarely serious ill. If the child can be distracted by reading aloud to it or playing with it, it is also a good sign regardless the temperature. On the other hand, the child can be seriously ill if it does not play, wants to drink or cannot be distracted even though the temperature has raised slightly.
If a child has high fever but otherwise seems alert, there is no immediate danger. You say the child’s general condition is good when it is as described above; can play, drink and be distracted even though the child is not as alert as it is when it is healthy. During a child’s illness, the evaluation of the general condition is of great importance.
You should measure the temperature when the child has rested for 20 minutes in a cool room. The temperature can rise up to 38oC during play and the child does not have to be ill. Staying in a warm room increases the temperature. You talk about fever when the temperature is over 38oC.
Fever often means that the child has an infection with a virus, e.g. cold or flu. Small children have higher fever than adults do and 39-40oC when you have a flu is not uncommon. Normally the child’s temperature rises during the day and is highest in the evening. A child with a cold will typically have 38oC in the morning rising to 39oC in the evening without any sign of deterioration. Some children with fever can get cramps (fever cramps). Especially children between the age of 6 months and 5 years get fever cramps. Fever cramps starts with you not being able to contact the child. At the same time the child, becomes stiff in the whole body. After a few seconds, the legs and arms bend and stretch in very fast twitches. The attack normally lasts less than 5 minutes. The child then awakens and will act normally apart from the fever. It is not harmful to the child, even though fever cramps look dramatic.