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Pain and fever


Pain is the body’s way of indicating that something is wrong. There are different types of pain, from dull and aching to sharp and acute. It can be hard to describe pain, especially for young children, who may not have the language to explain how they are feeling. Having a good understanding of why a child might feel pain will help pharmacy teams offer the best advice to parents and carers.

Pain is controlled by the nervous system via the following pain pathway:


Normally, a child’s temperature will be around 36.4°C, although this can vary slightly between individual children. A child is said to have a fever when their temperature is 38°C or more. A fever is the body’s natural response to fighting infections such as coughs, colds and flu. It is common among children, who may display signs such hot, flushed cheeks, feeling hotter to the touch than usual or feeling clammy. They may also look or feel unwell.

Prostaglandins play a role here, too. As well as sending pain signals to the brain, prostaglandins also act on the brain’s temperature-regulating centre, causing the body’s temperature to rise above normal. 

Temperature can be checked using a thermometer, and there is a range of different types available, including digital thermometers and digital ear thermometers. Glass thermometers and forehead strips should not be used as the former can be dangerous and the latter inaccurate. If a thermometer isn’t available, temperature can be checked by touching the child’s chest and back – if they feel hotter than usual then they may have a high temperature. Contrary to popular belief, touching the forehead isn’t an accurate way of checking temperature.