If you watch TV or read women’s magazines, you will be encouraged to think that fevers are dangerous! The pharmaceutical companies play upon parents’ fears of illnesses and paint a picture of intolerable suffering and grave danger by allowing children to have fevers.
Mounting a fever is a response by the immune system. It is a beautiful, effective response. The body turns the heat up to kill off the offending virus or bacteria. How wise! Why would we interfere with this process? The body can tolerate fevers up to 104 degrees without any potential for harm. Fevers are not truly dangerous and cannot cause brain damage until they get to 109-110 degrees.
Children respond differently to fevers. Some will mount high fevers quickly; some will gradually build and still be quite happy at 103 degrees. Some will be lethargic and delirious at 101 degrees. Many adults complain of miserable fevers once their temperature is over 100 degrees. The important point is observing how your child tolerates fevers. When children mount a fever quickly whether it is high or not, they are at risk for fever seizures. These are not dangerous, in fact research has demonstrated higher IQ’s and new pathways open in the brain after a febrile seizure, but as a parent they are scary to witness.
Many children will not need any medicines for their fevers, but for those who do need additional support, homeopathic medicines work wonders. Knowing your child’s fever pattern helps in choosing a homeopathic remedy that will support the immune system (not suppress it) and help your child tolerate the fever. Once you know your child’s fever pattern and have the correct remedy in hand, you have another tool in building your confidence in caring for your sick child. There are also some wonderful remedies for preventing febrile seizures in children who are susceptible to them.
I do recommend over the counter fever reducing non-steroidal anti-inflammatories for certain situations. When children are unable to sleep or rest because of a fever and they are not responding to homeopathic or supportive care, it is a good time to use children’s ibuprofen. These medicines are also indicated when natural treatments are not preventing an increase in temperature over 103-104 degrees.
Making your child feel better during a fever
- Rest – during fevers, children should not be at school, childcare or around other children except family members. They are contagious and will remain so until 24 hours after the fever has resolved.
- Fluids – drink water, mineral water, flavored mineral water without sugar, diluted vegetable or fruit juices if requested, herbal teas. NO sodas or fruit drinks with added sugar. It is very important to drink adequate fluids during a fever to prevent dehydration.
- Eating – unless your child requests food and says she is hungry, “starve a fever”. If hungry, provide soups, fruit smoothies, fruit popsicles without added sugar, non citrus fruit, eggs, rice, toast. Avoid cow’s milk products, meats, sugar and fried foods.
- Make them comfortable – baths, steamy showers, lots of pillows, stories and videos. We all need some tender loving care when sick and especially during a fever.
- Immune support – vitamin C/Emergen C, zinc, vitamin A, elderberry, etc.
- If your child is not able to drink enough fluids during the fever, put them in a tepid bath for 15-20 minutes which will help prevent dehydration.
Just knowing that fever is a natural response of the immune system and not a symptom to be feared helps many parents be more patient with fevers. Remember the stories of what your grandmothers and great grandmothers did for fevers? Many people of that generation had to rely upon natural medicine to manage fevers and they did quite well! Have confidence in your ability to read your child and know when you need to intervene, not out of fear but out of your connection to your child. Working together we can help you be your child’s best doctor!