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What to Do When a Child Has Fever and Cough

January 6, 2024

Whenever a child has a fever or feels warm to touch, it is important to measure it and record the date and time. It can be measured by the digital thermometer in the axilla (safest), groin, forehead temperature (temporal artery) or rectal temperature. The digital thermometer is easy to use, with a direct display of temperature (follow the instructions given in the insert)

Oral temperature by a digital thermometer can be measured in children over 4 years old with the precaution of keeping a gap of at least 20 minutes after consuming any cold or hot food. The normal body temperature ranges from 98.4- 99.4°F. A temperature reading of 99.6F-100.3°F is a low-grade fever, and a fever of more than 100.4 °F with any symptoms should be considered a fever of concern. If fever has associated symptoms of cough and runny nose in children, it is suggestive of respiratory infection. It may be accompanied by body ache (myalgia), malaise, headache and sometimes diarrheas.

Book an appointment to consult Dr. Gurmeet Kaur for pediatric concerns.

The fever usually lasts 3-5 days, and the cough may continue for 1-3 weeks. There are some tips which you can observe for children with fever and cough.

  1. Fever makes the child uncomfortable, so do not overdress the child. Make the child wear loose clothes as per season but keep warm in winter.
  2. Keep the child well hydrated as more water is lost from the body during fever. It is good to give age-appropriate fluids like milk, soup, freshly made lemon juice with less sugar, freshly made juice is desirable, but sugary drinks.
  3. Medication like acetaminophen (Crocin, Dolo, etc.) in an appropriate dose per weight and frequency of administration also need to be consulted with the Pediatrician in case of non-responsive fever to one dose of acetaminophen. Other analgesics/antipyretics are always to be taken with consultation of a Pediatrician.
  4. It is important to make the child rest during fever by giving age-appropriate indoor games but screen time should be age-appropriate even during sickness time.
  5. Give warm fluids, water, soups, etc. Putting nasal saline drops takes care of a blocked nose and is supervised (to prevent burns and accidents). Steam inhalation (not direct for young children) helps to relieve congestion and decreases cough.
  6. In case of respiratory tract infection, no cough syrups are recommended under 4 years of age as per WHO, as it is a protective reflex and cough syrup, having a combination of medications, can result in adverse effects on the body of a baby, especially if the dose is not appropriate. If the cough is troublesome, then appropriate antitussives have to be used in consultation with a Pediatrician as a child needs evaluation of the cough and the extent of involvement of the respiratory tract.
  7. Honey can be used as it soothes the throat along with other commonly used home remedies like ginger juice, cinnamon powder/liquorice powder, etc., though these should be tried in older children as dose and frequency is not based on scientific evidence. Honey should never be used under one year of age as it can cause a notorious infection named Botulism with a potent toxin present in stored honey. It should not be used for a neonate for any ritual.
  8. Antibiotics should not be started as self-therapy as most respiratory tract infections are viral, and always consult a Paediatrician in case of premature and younger babies less than 3 months of age as they are likely to have a fast progression of disease. Always remember feeding does get affected in any illness but refusal to feed or decreased activity and fast & difficulty in breathing symptoms should be taken as an alarm to approach a pediatrician.

Also Read : Signs of Fever in Infants and Children

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