What's a normal temperature?
About 36 to 37°C - anything above that is a high temperature. It's probably not a sign of illness unless it's reached 38.5°C but anything over 37°C should be monitored to see how it develops.
What's a fever?
- A fever in a child under 5 would be a reading over 37.5°C.
- A fever in a child over 5 or an adult would be 38°C or over.
- If it hits 41°C it's a serious fever and urgent medical attention is needed.
What does a high temperature mean?
- As the body fights off infection it generates heat - it's a natural reaction and not in itself dangerous. You can bring the temperature down with paracetamol or ibuprofen (check with the pharmacist if you are treating a child).
- One spike in temperature may not be a worry. Take two readings a couple of hours apart and see if it's still high.
- If there are also signs of pain or distress, and the patient is unable to eat or drink, call your GP or the NHS 0845 4647 straight away.
What to do
- Cool the patient down gently by removing layers of clothes. If you open windows make sure it doesn't get too chilly and that there isn't a draught.
- Give plenty of water.
- Keep track of the temperature by taking a reading every few hours, especially if the person who's ill is feeling worse. If there's no improvement and you're not sure what's causing the temperature, seek medical advice.
Take a reading from each of your family when they are healthy so you know what level is 'normal' - some people are naturally hotter than others. An ear thermometer can be the easiest way to read a child's temperature.
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