Today we have a very special guest on the blog! You will hear from Jami Oles, Holistic Nurse, Certified Holistic Health Practitioner & Family Herbalist on why not to fear a fever, natural remedies to treat a fever, and more about how fevers are beneficial to illness. To learn more from Jami, visit her Facebook page or contact her at email@example.com for a consultation! I have learned so much from Jami and I highly recommend purchasing her Fever Book as you empower yourself with knowledge about natural health and how the human body works in order to best care for your family!
We all know and have probably experienced how scary fevers can be. As an EMT and then even as a Nurse, I was ALWAYS taught to treat a fever. Heck, I was taught to load the child up with an initial dose of Ibuprofen & Tylenol at the first sign of a fever. As I learned more through my studies and research, I began questioning this. Working in the ER one night I asked one of our attending Physician’s why he treated a fever of 102.4 when the child was sitting up, alert, smiling, and acting quite normal. His response was one I will NEVER forget “parents expect something to be done when they come here. They don’t want to hear that a fever is beneficial and all the child needs is fluids and rest, so we treat them”. Yep, he said it in a very matter of fact way.
So, how did we learn to fear fevers? It is what psychologists call a learned behavior. We learned to fear it at some point in time. Does that mean we should fear it? I don’t think so. I think when fear shows up we should take that as a sign to learn more about the subject. I wanted to know where we learned this from. Pediatricians? Stories we hear from other people? How was this behavior learned by so many people?
Back in 1980s, a prominent pediatrician named Barton Schmitt coined the term “fever phobia” to describe the understandable desire of many parents to bring down fevers in their children as quickly as possible. Although over a quarter-century has passed since Schmitt’s phrase caught on, fever phobia is still alive and well, and parents wonder if a childhood fever is dangerous. Doctors know that a fever is beneficial, there is no medical research that states a fever in a healthy child is detrimental to health or even harmful. In fact, the medical literature even states that even febrile seizures are not harmful. Scary, yes, but not harmful.
The bottom line is…. fear created all kinds of misinformation. Somewhere along the line people allowed fear to take the wheel. Fear that their child’s brain was on fire, when, in all actuality, the brain is the control center of a fever. The drug companies that sell BILLIONS of dollars worth of Tylenol and ibuprofen are not going to correct the false information. Why would they? If parents are suddenly taught to stop fearing fevers, they would stop rushing to give those medicines to bring them down.
A recent study in the journal Pediatrics shows that 91% of parents surveyed thought that a fever can cause harmful effects, with 56% of caregivers very worried about the potential harm of fevers for their own children. And, 89% of parents reached for such fever reducers as acetaminophen and ibuprofen before temperatures reached 102 degrees.
MORE HARM THAN GOOD
Artificially reducing fevers is not only a very unnecessary practice, it also causes more harm than good and here is why: we have these things in our bodies called prostaglandins; these guys are the ones that help our body increase the fever to kill the pathogen (germ). When we give Tylenol and/or ibuprofen, both medicines shut those prostaglandins off completely. This is why I say that those medicines “shut off” the immune system. They literally stop the very function that kills the “germ” causing the infection.
Studies have shown that when we treat fevers, even if we treat it once during an illness, it prolongs the actual illness. Not only are we halting a critical immune response, when we give Tylenol we are also decreasing a crucial antioxidant in our body called GLUTATHIONE. Glutathione is one of the most important antioxidants in the human body. It is the antioxidant that detoxes Tylenol out of the liver. So, when we give Tylenol, we are depleting the very thing that we need in order to detox that medication out of our liver.
“Nothing bad is going to happen if you don’t treat the fever,” says Dr. Ari Brown, a pediatrician in Austin, Texas, and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). A fever is not an illness in itself. A study published in the February 2004 Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that children who ran a fever during their first year were less likely to develop allergies later in childhood than children who did not have a fever.
As for parents worried about fevers causing damage, these instances are very rare and are usually caused by circumstances like traumatic brain injuries, central nervous system disorders, and heatstroke. Our brain has an internal regulatory mechanism called the hypothalamus which controls our body temperature. This mechanism prevents fevers caused by infections from getting higher than what the body can handle. Put simply, the brain is not going to allow any harm to itself. Although fevers are very uncomfortable, they are helpful and necessary. The main concern when a child has a fever is dehydration, not the fever itself. Fevers are naturally dehydrating and it is very important to keep a sick child hydrated.
MYTH VS FACT
MYTH: My child feels warm, so she has a fever.
FACT: Children can feel warm for a many reasons such as playing hard, crying, getting out of a warm bed or being outside on a hot day. They are “giving off heat”. Their skin temperature should return to normal in 10 to 20 minutes. The medical field does not actually consider a fever a “true fever” unless the temperature is above 100.4. Anything below that can be caused by other factors as mentioned above.
MYTH: Fevers are bad and/or dangerous for children.
FACT: Fevers turn on the body’s immune system and help the body fight infection. Fevers are one of the body’s protective mechanisms. Normal fevers between 100° and 105° F (37.8° – 40° C) are actually good for sick children.
MYTH: Fevers above 104° F (40° C) are dangerous and can cause brain damage.
FACT: Fevers with infections do not cause brain damage. Only body temperatures above 106° F can cause brain damage. The body temperature climbs this high only with extreme environmental temperatures (for example, if a child is confined to a closed car in hot weather) or brain damage (tumor or trauma).
MYTH: Anyone can have a febrile seizure (seizure triggered by fever).
FACT: Only 4% of children have febrile seizures, and most of them are hereditary and not a direct result of the fever but a result of how fast the fever spikes or drops. Febrile seizures have actually been related to OTC fever reducers because they artificially lower the temperature too rapidly.
MYTH: Febrile seizures are harmful.
FACT: Febrile seizures are scary to watch, but they usually stop within 3 minutes. They cause no permanent harm. Children who have had febrile seizures do not have a greater risk for developmental delays, learning disabilities, or seizures without fever.
MYTH: All fevers need to be treated with fever reducing medicine.
FACT: Fevers reducers cause more harm than good and can prolong the illness. You can effectively help a child with the discomfort from a fever with natural remedies which are much safer.
MYTH: Without treatment, fevers will keep going higher.
FACT: This is absolutely NOT true. The brain has a thermostat (just like your home AC/heating system), fevers from infection usually don’t go above 103° or 104° F (39.5°- 40° C). They rarely go to 105° or 106° F (40.6° or 41.1° C). While the latter are “high” fevers, they are harmless ones. The brain is not going to cause itself harm.
MYTH: If the fever doesn’t come down (if you can’t “break the fever”), the cause is serious.
FACT: Fevers that don’t respond to OTC fever reducers can be caused by viruses or bacteria. The actual temperature is not directly related to the seriousness of the infection. All doctors know this.
MYTH: Once the fever comes down with medicines, it should stay down.
FACT: The fever will normally last for 2 or 3 days with most viral infections. Therefore, when the fever medicine wears off, the fever will return and need to be treated again. The fever will go away and not return once your child’s body overpowers the virus (usually by the fourth day).
MYTH: If the fever is really high, it must be a serious illness.
FACT: Again, this is a very common misconception. The actual temperature has nothing to do with the severity of the illness.
MYTH: The exact number of the temperature is very important.
FACT: How your child looks & behavior is what is most important, not the exact temperature.
MYTH: Oral temperatures between 98.7° and 100° F (37.1° to 37.8° C) are low-grade fevers.
FACT: These temperatures are normal variations. The body’s temperature normally changes throughout the day. It peaks in the late afternoon and evening. An actual low-grade fever is 100.5° F to 102° F (37.8° – 39° C).
If you do want to lower a fever for comfort reasons, homeopathic and herbal fever reducers are safe and effective. (For more on this, purchase the book “The Facts About Fevers via Your Natural Healer Facebook Page). These remedies work with the body to help fight infection. They lower the temp to keep the child comfortable, without completely shutting off the immune system’s response. It is also important to remember to keep clothing light. A child will become cold when they have a fever. Do not use heavy blankets as they will hold heat in and can cause an artificial increase in temperature. A sheet will usually help with the chills.
Also, hydration is key when a child has a fever. Fevers over 102 F increase metabolism which causes a greater need for fluids. Coconut water is my drink of choice for a feverish child but don’t be too picky, just make sure they are taking small frequent sips.
Fresh fruit is a great way to stay hydrated and give the body all kinds of beneficial nutrients while sick. Other than that, don’t worry about food too much. Not too many kids want to eat when they are sick. The body needs rest and resting digestion is one of the ways it can rest.
Fevers also deplete Vit A stores so I encourage parents to give some Cod Liver Oil when a child is feverish. Cod Liver Oil is a great source of “true” Vit A and will help keep the immune system strong through the duration of the illness.
Learn More from Jami
I hope that you have learned something new here and feel a little more empowered as a parent when dealing with fevers. We want our children to heal as fast as possible, and allowing the fever to fight is the best way to ensure a speedy recovery.
To purchase my book “The Facts About Fevers”, please contact me via email or my FB page.
Your Natural Healer Facebook Page
Jami Oles, Holistic Nurse, Certified Holistic Health Practitioner & Family Herbalist
Local and long distance consultations are available!
For further questions or a consult, please contact Jami via Facebook or email.
How do you feel about fevers?
Please remember, if you feel you should see a doctor, then absolutely do so. This is not intended as medical treatment or medical advice, but rather as education material. Please consult a doctor or healthcare provider before making any health changes, especially if you have a specific diagnosis or condition. The information on this site should not be relied upon to determine diet, make a medical diagnosis, or determine treatment for a medical condition. The information on this website is not intended to be a consult with a healthcare provider or provide medical advice. Any statements or claims about the possible health benefits from food or supplements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and are not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease. Full disclaimer here.