Friday, October 26, 2012

Is Treating A Fever The Best Idea?

Your little one is achy, grumpy and you've just realized he has a fever. Time to reach for that trusty Tylenol!! Or is it? As parents we just want to make our kiddos feel better. We want to see them running around and happy not sick and uncomfortable. Or maybe you worry a fever is dangerous, but is getting rid of symptoms the best way to go? I don't think so. A fever is usually an indication of an infection and is your bodies first step in fighting it off. When your body realizes this infection is there, your brain sends the signal to raise your body temperature. We all know heat kills bacteria which is why you use hot water to sterilize. That is what your child's body is doing. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says this:

"By itself, fever is not an illness. Rather, it is a sign or symptom of sickness. In fact, usually it is a positive sign that the body is fighting infection. Fever stimulates certain defenses, such as the white blood cells, which attack and destroy invading bacteria."

 By rushing to artificially break the fever we are actually inhibiting our bodies way of getting better! In fact this often prolongs the length of the fever and can cause it to spike higher when the medicine wears off. The opposite overall effect!

"Fevers generally do not need to be treated with medication unless your child is uncomfortable or has a history of febrile convulsions. The fever may be important in helping your child fight the infection. Even higher temperatures are not in themselves dangerous or significant unless your child has a history of seizures or a chronic disease." (bold added by me) Read more from the AAP here.

Ok, so we know  that the fever is beneficial and we should probably leave it alone, but is there any way to make our little one feel better? The best thing to do is keep them comfortable and let the fever run its course. Make them chicken soup from home made broth. Broth contains many healing properties ( Here is a great post explaining how and why broth heals)! Use lots of garlic as this helps to fight infections. Let them take a warm bath with epsom salt. Keep them hydrated. Coconut water, water, Emergen-C packets and tea with raw honey all are great ways to keep them hydrated. Try and stay away from vitamin enhanced water or sport type drinks, they are very high in sugar which infections feed off of. Dress them in comfortable clothing and let them rest as much as they want. If they don't want to sleep, turn their bed into a restful play zone with coloring books, legos, dolls, books or even movies... Pretty standard procedure when you kiddo is sick anyway. Focus more on treating other symptoms like vomiting, nausea, aches, stuffy nose or cough... try to treat these as naturally as possible. Remember that OTC meds are toxic to the system and only cover symptoms they don't heal them. There are many natural ways to treat these things which I will be writing about soon.

You might be wondering when a fever IS a worry. After all, we've all heard that a fever that gets too high too fast can be dangerous. But what is too high? Anything 104 degrees or higher that doesn't respond to fever reducing treatments is reason for concern (note: You don't need to reduce it at all unless it is 104 degrees or higher). Fevers should never be accompanied by lethargy, irritability or meningitis symptoms (read more details here.) Infants 6 weeks and under should be taken to a physician or an emergency room immediately if they have a fever of 101 degrees or higher. Infants 7 weeks to 6 months should be evaluated if the fever does not reduce within a few hours. You can find more detailed information on the AAP website, click here.

If your childs fever does warrant non-emergency intervention, again I encourage you to research alternative treatments. Over the counter medications like Tylenol or Ibuprofin are toxic to the liver and studies are showing that they are very harmful to the body (but thats a whole other post!). Some things that help are warm baths, warm peppermint tea and peppermint oil on the bottom of the feet.

What do you do for your kiddo when they are sick? Do you use OTC medicine to help them or let it run its course? Have you used herbs or other alternative treatments to make them feel more comfortable?

*DISCLAIMER- I am NOT a doctor nor do I have any special training. I am not offering medical advice and you should consult a physician or conduct your own research before doing (or not doing) anything. I am sharing information based on my own research that I have found useful for MY family.

Written By Happily Domestic Contributor: Brittney Thompson

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1 comment:

Lori said...

This is a great post. I hate to see the kiddos suffer bUt when we havnt used the OTC stuff, they usually burn off the sickness and it's gone in a couple days as a posed to a week or more. We even treated strep throat naturally this time and had great success.

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