Your Health A-Z



Dr Etienne Bruwer, a paediatrician at Mediclinic Durbanville, answers some questions about fevers.

What do the hot and cold temperatures mean?
We’re built to conserve heat. On cold evenings, children will get higher temperatures as they are preserving heat. Feel the child and if his hands and feet are cold (he may also get the shivers) it means his body had to shut down to maintain normal blood pressure, but in the process is unable to radiate heat and maintain a normal temperature. You need to warm him up by tricking his body. Put him in a luke-warm bath – never a cold bath or a hot bath – until his temperature drops to the same as the bath water. The blood vessels in his hands and feed will open again and allow excess heat to escape. Basically you need to warm up the child so he can cool down naturally.

Do doctors treat the fever as well or just the underlying cause?
The fever is treated only when the child is uncomfortable and miserable. Antipyretic or anti-fever mediation is given simply to help the child feel better, while the underlying cause is treated so the fever dissipates.

How should a child be medicated for fever?
Many, if not most, parents dose their children incorrectly for fever – either under dosing them to be cautious or overdosing them in the hope the fever will dissipate faster. This won’t help the child, who must be dosed according to his weight, not age, as per the medication instructions and using the supplied measuring spoon or device. Remember, household spoons are not accurate enough.

Read more about fevers in Mediclinic Family.

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The information provided in this article was correct at the time of publishing. At Mediclinic we endeavour to provide our patients and readers with accurate and reliable information, which is why we continually review and update our content. However, due to the dynamic nature of clinical information and medicine, some information may from time to time become outdated prior to revision.

In the interest of our patients, in accordance with SA law and our commitment to expertise, Mediclinic cannot subscribe to the practice of online diagnosis. Please consult a medical professional for specific medical advice. If you have any major concerns, please see your doctor for an assessment. If you have any cause for concern, your GP will be able to direct you to the appropriate specialists.