Fever is a state of body repair that can cause feelings of anxiety and helplessness for a caregiver. There is a general misconception of what a fever is and how it should be treated – a plethora of fever-suppressing medications on the market encourages parents to use these when there is slight indication of a fever. What most people are unaware of is that fever is not a disease itself, but your BODY’S REACTION to an infection, virus or a bacteria. When you catch one of these annoying microbes, the body’s instinctive reaction is to increase the core temperature so to create a condition where the virus/bacteria cannot survive – resulting in a fever. Fever is not something that is causing you harm, is actually protecting you from illness! By allowing your fever to run its course, you can decrease the length time you are sick, and strengthen the immune system so to fight off future infections much more efficiently.
Fevers can be a scary event for many parents due to the risk of brain damage and possibility of febrile seizures that may result if the fever is not well-controlled. However, the events are quite rare as brain damage does not tend occur unless the fever has reached over 107.6F/42C, and seizures usually appear with a SUDDEN increase in temperature over 40C. Also, the incidence of febrile seizures before the age of 5 occurs in only 3-4% of children in North America. While there are still risks, we must not let these impede our judgment when taking care of ourselves and children. With the proper skills and education, parents will be able to manage their child’s fever without the aid of fever-supressing medication.
Acetaminophen (1-30 ml every 4 hours) or Ibuprofen (5-10 mg every 6-8 hours; maximum 40 mg/kg weight of your child/day) can suppress your child’s fever but are not addressing the cause of the fever. This should be used when fevers are reach 40C and above to bring the temperature below 40C. Suppressing a fever can expose the weakened body to secondary infections such as ear infections, throat infections, lung infections and so on. It is normal after a fever to experience a runny nose, cough or chest congestion as these are the body’s ways of getting rid of the all the waste products resulting from fever. Just like the fever, we want to encourage the clearance of this mucus, as well as supporting the body so that the symptoms don’t fly out of control.
Ways to Manage a Fever:
Don’t panic! Temperatures do not rise indefinitely, and fevers around and under 39C do not need intensive treatment. By following some basic steps, the fever will be managed.
Feeding your child cold water, smoothies, soups, herbal teas, and juice popsicles can help keep the temperatures down as well as keep them hydrated
When fever hits 40C/100F – as well as following the steps above, please consider the following
When to contact your doctor or seek medical attention
Dr. Tanya Lee is a naturopathic doctor currently practicing in Milton Ontario. Tanya was drawn to the naturopathic profession for its core beliefs in treating the whole person. Dr. Lee practice general medicine, with a special interest in children's health, women's health and pregnancy.
Dr. Lee offers flu prevention and immune strengthening consultations for fall and winter. Her treatment strategies involve boosting the immune system through naturopathic treatments and providing education and information to parents to better equip them for cold and flu season.
For more information on Dr. Lee and her practice, please visit, www.healthcentreofmilton.ca.