What to do when your child has a fever

It’s natural to worry when your child has a fever. However, knowing what signs to look out for will determine whether you can treat your child at home, need to take your child to see a doctor or rather the nearest hospital.


What is an elevated temperature for babies and small children?

A fever in children is a core body (rectal) temperature of 38°C. An elevated temperature or fever may be caused by an ear infection, a viral illness, gastroenteritis and many other illnesses. It may even be caused by a recent immunisation.

When to treat a fever at home

An illness accompanied by a fever is probably not serious if your child:

  • Is still playing or interested in playing
  • Is eating and drinking well
  • Is alert and smiling at you
  • Has a normal skin tone
  • Looks well once their temperature comes down.

In these cases, you’ll find that your child’s temperature also comes down relatively easy.

When to take your child to the doctor for a fever

If your baby is younger than 3 months and has a temperature higher than 38°C, or your baby is aged between 3 and 12 months and has a temperature of 39°C, you need to take your child to the clinic or doctor immediately.

You should also see the doctor or go to the clinic right away if your child:

  • Is under 2 years and their fever lasts longer than 24 – 48 hours.
  • Is older than 2 years and has a fever lasting for longer than 48 – 72 hours, or if their temperature is higher than 40.5°C. However, if the fever comes down with treatment and your child is then comfortable, you probably don’t need to see the doctor.
  • Has other symptoms, including earache, a sore throat or a cough.
  • Has had fevers on and off for a week or more – even if those fevers aren’t very high.
  • Has a fever as well as a serious medical illness, for example a heart problem, sickle cell anaemia, diabetes or cystic fibrosis.
  • Suddenly develops a rash or unexplained bruise.
  • Has pain urinating.
  • Has a fever accompanied by a troubled immune system, for example, if they are having chronic steroid therapy, have had a bone marrow or organ transplant, had their spleen removed, is HIV-positive or is being treated for cancer.
  • Has recently travelled to a high risk or live in a high risk malaria area (or other type of high risk medical areas).

When to take your child to the hospital for a fever

You should get your child to the hospital immediately, or phone an ambulance, if they have the following symptoms, especially if accompanied with fever:

  • They are crying and cannot be calmed down.
  • They are not awakened easily or at all.
  • They cannot walk (after learning how).
  • They have difficulty breathing, even when their nose is clear.
  • They have blue lips, tongue or nails.
  • They have a very bad headache.
  • Their neck is stiff.
  • They refuse to move an arm or leg.
  • They have a seizure.

Panado gets to work in only 15 minutes

Panado contains paracetamol, gets to work in 15 minutes, is gentle on tummies, and also provides fast and effective relief from:

  • Pain and fever
  • Teething pain
  • Toothache
  • Sore throats

Panado is also sugar and alcohol free. Panado. A dose of care.


  1. Wilcock A, Twycross R. Therapeutic reviews: Acetaminophen (Paracetamol). J. Pain Symptom Manag. 2013,46(5):747-757.
  2. Goodman & Gilman’s The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, 13th ed. Acetaminophen. p696.
  3. Panado Paediatric Syrup Strawberry Approved package insert March 2002.
  4. Van den Anker JN. Optimising the management of fever and pain in children. Int J Clin Pract 2013;67(178):26–32
  5. Medline Plus. Fever. August 2018. Available from: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003090.htm

S0 Panado® Paediatric Syrup Strawberry. Each 5 ml contains paracetamol 120 mg. Reg. No. 35/2.7/0112.
For full prescribing information refer to the prescriber information approved by the medicine’s regulatory authority.
Adcock Ingram Limited. Reg. No. 1949/034385/06. Private Bag X69, Bryanston, 2021, South Africa. Tel. +27 11 635 0000 www.adcock.com 2019090610160772

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