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How do you measure your child’s temperature when they’re unwell?

What constitutes a fever and how should you be measuring it?

NICE guidelines now say that GPs do not have to specifically treat a high temperature in a child. They should treat a child who has got a feverish unwell illness and the fact that they’re feeling unwell and feverish rather than what the exact temperature is. So if your child has a high temperature but is running around, appears fine and is eating, you don’t need to make sure the temperature comes down.

According to NHS Direct, a normal temperature ranges from 36 to 36.8°c and a temperature of above 38°c is classed as a fever. Please be aware that an armpit temperature with a digital thermometer is about half a degree lower than the body’s core temperature, which is what you’re trying to measure when you take a thermometer reading. If the thermometer shows a raised reading, take another reading about 20 minutes later to confirm it.

Forehead thermometers, the strips with coloured marks that light up according to how high your temperature allegedly is, are not accurate enough to be relied upon. Take your child’s temperature with an electronic or infrared ear thermometers by placing it under the arm, under the tongue or if infrared, in the ear. However if your child is under 5 place the thermometer under the arm.

If you would like guidance on when to send your child to school, nursery or childminder then use this link to the Health Protection Agency. It contains information on illnesses and the recommended period to be kept away from school, nursery or childminders.



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