By Dr. Anke Zimmermann, ND, FCAH
Fevers in Children
I get questions about fever in children several times a week. With flu season in high gear many children are sick. Unfortunately, parents are taught to fear fever as if it were a disease in and of itself and told to make it go away as soon as possible.
But suppressing a fever, either by using drugs or by chilling is a potentially dangerous practice. Fever is the the body's coping mechanism for dealing with infections and toxins and if a fever is suppressed during an infection the patient can actually become more vulnerable to the germ that is causing the illness.
Fevers should always be taken seriously and evaluated, but the presence or absence of a fever does not always reflect the seriousness of the condition.
A high fever is not necessarily a sign of a serious illness and a low fever does not always mean that there is no cause for concern. Some serious diseases, such as meningococcal meningities, polio and Hep-A for example, may start out with low-grade fevers. A better indicator is the overall appearance and demeanor of the child.
10 Interesting Facts About Fevers
1) All non-Westernised cultures support fevers as part of their care of a sick person and Europeans did the same until very recently. I remember being wrapped up warmly during a fever and being fed hot liquids.
2) The idea that fever is harmful started being promoted 150 years ago, because fever-suppressing drugs were invented and produced commercially.
3) White blood cells respond faster and better when the temperature rises up to 104F (40C).
4) 104f/40C is the ideal temperature.
5) Interferons, substances that kill viruses and bacteria and make white blood cells more active are four times more effective at 104F (40C) than at 102.2F (39C).
6) Debilitated humans of any age who cannot produce a fever will die from infection.
7) Drugs that reduce fever place both reptiles and mammals in danger of reduced survival rates from infection.
8) Parents are taught to suppress fevers to make a child 'more comfortable'. The child is not really uncomfortable. Being sleepy and lethargic is normal during a fever as the body is focusing on healing itself.
9) Fevers help antibiotics work more effectively, too.
10) A fever due to a viral infection can last for 2-3 days. That is normal.
By mindlessly reducing fever conventional medicine sabotages the body's attempt to heal itself. A fever of 104 is usually fine as long as the child is carefully monitored, kept warm and hydrated. If the child looks and acts very sick attention should be sought.
Common Homeopathic Remedies for Illness with Fever
Even homeopathic remedies should not be used lightly during fevers in my opinion. I think it's best to give the body a chance to mount a proper immune response. That being said, here three homeopathic remedies which are often helpful with fever:
Aconitum napellus, Belladonna and Ferrum-phos.
Aconite is used mostly in sudden abrupt onsets of high fevers, often in the middle of the night and also often after exposure to cold wind. Very common in children. One of my teachers suggested parents keep a vial of Aconite 30CH or 200CH in their bedsite drawer for middle-of-the-night wakings with fever or croup. Give a dose and go back to sleep.
Belladonna is used in classic fever when the child has a hot head with a flushed face and cool hands and feet. Great if the child starts to hallucinate or even convulses. If it's the correct remedy the fever will go down in a few minutes. This can be useful for fevers of any kind, I remember having major surgery and on day three I got a fever. Yikes. I took a dose of Belladonna 30CH and was fine in minutes. Only had to repeat once. No antibiotics were needed.
Ferrum-phos is more often indicated for low-grade fevers. But it's not a really good idea to use it for that as it can be suppressive and the condition can deteriorate. The only reason it is mentioned here is to dissuade parents from using it, because it will suggest to use it on the internet.
Please always take a fever seriously, but do not panic and definitely don't give any Tylenol. Call me if your child is already under my care.
By Dr. Anke Zimmermann, ND, FCAH
Dr. Anke Zimmermann, ND, FCAH, Naturopathic Physician
West Sooke, BC, Canada
Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10-6 and alternating Saturdays from 10-4