Here is some info I recently put together on fevers for a Moms board I help run. I just thought I would share since it’s the cold and flu season.
A lot of moms are concerned about how high a fever gets, febrile seizures, brain damage, etc. So what’s the real deal on fevers? What is a fever for? What are some natural ways to relive fever symptoms and the fever itself?
Why is a fever important?
Fever is the immune system’s response in addition to sending T-Cells to fight antibodies. The T-Cells can kill bacterial pathogens. Those pathogens are killable by T-Cell attacks. Fevers are also part of the clean up process for toxic bacterial waste products.
Viruses are not living microorganisms that rummage about internally looking for food to scavenge, as bacteria do. A virus does not have a nucleus cell that divides to create more microbes, as bacteria do. The body’s thalamus/thyroid reaction raises the temperature slightly, and that stops viruses from replicating.
A snippit on piggybacking meds to reduce a fever and the percentage of children who get febrile seizures.
Only 5% to 10% of children under six get febrile convulsions, which usually last for a few minutes. The commonly misdirected concern is that a high fever in a young child can create brain damage. The actual situation is that vaccinations and other illnesses are the real causes of brain damage, not the fever itself.
The fever phobia has led parents and maybe some doctors to alternate Tylenol with Advil or any Ibuprofen in a desperate effort to reduce fevers. This effort has occasionally resulted in more serious damage, sometimes death. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against these desperate measures to reduce fever. They advise sticking with one medication, using conservative doses carefully.
Info from National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) on febrile seizures can be found here.
The vast majority of febrile seizures are harmless. There is NO evidence that febrile seizures cause brain damage. The degree of the fever has nothing to do with the seizure, it’s how fast it spikes. You can have febrile seizures at any temp, it’s all about how fast it spikes.
Febrile seizures are not caused by “fever”. The fever expands the diameter of the tiny blood vessels so that more white blood cell infection fighting “soldiers” can traverse down the ‘roads.” When the blood vessel roads become jammed, by too many white blood cells, and altered fluid dynamics, there is ischemia. Ischemia causes a lack of oxygen to the brain.
Herbs – Elder flower and yarrow increase sweating to help manage hot fevers, while ginger has warming effects to help manage fever with chills. Tea is an excellent way to administer herbs while keeping a feverish child hydrated and nourished. Helpful herbal teas for fever include chamomile, red clover, rosemary and peppermint. Lemon juice or honey can be added to the tea (never give honey to infants under one year).
Essential Oils – Lemon, lavender, eucalyptus, thyme, pine, rosemary and sage essential oils are beneficial for feverish children and also help support the immune system to support the body’s defenses instead of suppressing them. Drop some lavender essential oil in cool water and use a washrag to wipe a child’s forehead for a cooling, relaxing effect.
Treating Childhood Fevers with Aromatherapy, Essential Oils, Natural Care for Infant or Child Fever
Homeopathy – Aconite, Belladonna, Nux Vomica and Pulsatilla are four common remedies indicated in childhood fevers.
Treating Fevers with Homeopathy and Choosing a Homeopathic Remedy for Childhood Fevers
Foods/Fluids – Many children lose their appetite when feverish, so parents can give nourishing fluids like fruit juices, teas, broth and juiced vegetables to keep a energy and hydration levels up. Whenever a child can eat try feeding them easy to digest fruits, vegetables and nuts to avoid constipation, provide plenty of energy and gently stimulate digestion. Let the child eat as much as they desire rather than purposefully “starving a fever” as the old myth goes.
Rest and Light Activity – While infants and children with a fever will often sleep more often, or longer than usual, parents should allow their children to be lightly active if they feel like it. A walk around the block in the fresh air can raise a sick child’s spirits.