Discovery: The Truth About Fevers

Source:  Discovery: The Truth About Fevers    Tag:  bacterial fever vs viral fever
I was taught that when a child has a fever, especially a fever at about 103° or more, I should switch off giving them Tylenol and Ibuprofen and wipe their shivering body down with a cold washcloth. Basically, I believed that I needed to do everything I could to reduce their fever.

It never felt quite right but I let fear and a lack of knowledge take over.

It wasn't until I came across an article written by Linda B. White and Sunny Mavor titled "A Blessing in Disguise" that I shed my anxieties about fevers and instead felt confident and calm when one came on.

Aside from the spirit speaking truth to me about the information they provided their vast amount of experience and background also left me feeling comfortable about their views and opinions.

The cause for a fever most commonly comes from an infection. When infectious "bugs" stimulate white blood cells in a specific way, they release a substance which signals the brain to raise the body's thermostat setting. Therefore, the body heats up by increasing its metabolic rate, shivers, or seeks for warm environments.

(Other triggers include transfusion reactions, rheumatoid arthritis, tumors, reactions from trauma, medications, immunizations, teething, and dehydration.)

Here are the important points gleaned from their article:

~ Fevers usually hit their highest in the late afternoon.

~ A basic fever, one due to minor bacterial or viral illness, is the immune system working at its best.

~ The severity of a fever is an unreliable indicator of the severity of the child's illness. The important thing is how your child is acting, not the thermometer reading.

~ Because children tend to run slightly higher temp.'s than adults any temp. ranging from 97° to 99.4° is normal.

~ A mild fever increases the white blood cells that kill cells infected with viruses, fungi, cancer, and improves the ability of certain blood cells to destroy bacteria and infected cells.

~ Giving fever reducing medications may make things worse and actually prolongs the illness for up to 3.5 days. In fact, Ibuprofin is known to inhibit white-cell production of antibodies by up to 50 percent!

~ Fevers above 106° are the ones that can harm the heart and brain. But even then some health experts say that such a fever is unlikely to harm a healthy child.

~ During most infections the brain keeps the body temp. at or below 104°. So in most (but not all) cases you don't need to be afraid that your child's temp. is going to rise above that point.

~ Only about 3% of kids get febrile seizures along with a fever. Frightening as these seizures are, they're benign; once they pass the child continues to develop normally.

~ The pro's to using a fever reducer is that the child may be more likely to drink fluids, nibble food, and sleep which can all help him to recover.

My little side note here though is that I've noticed that when in the past I've given a fever reducer to one of my children they are up, running around and acting normal. My intuition tells me that this isn't good. I believe that they are using up energy that is needed for healing and this also will prolong illness.

What to do for a child with a fever:

~ A fever usually makes a child feel lethargic, achy, and sleepy and makes them lose their appetite. When this happens all we need to do is simply keep them hydrated and tuck them into bed.

~ Stores of energy and vitamins are burned up therefore drink appropriate fluids, ingest nutritious foods or take a vitamin supplement.

~ Don't make your child eat if they don't have an appetite but do encourage fluids - loss of appetite is a natural occurrence that actually helps the infection to go away.

~ Sugary foods can delay the natural immune response. Offer healthy food options for times when they feel they can eat.

~ Let your child determine when or what she eats. They know what they need and what their bodies can handle. (Grapefruit is a great option here.)

~ Continue monitoring your child for dramatic increases in temp. and worsening of any of his other symptoms.

~ If your child is pale, shivers, or complains of feeling chilled bundle the child in breathable fabric so that the sweat will evaporate, making sure he/she can easily remove layers.

~ If the child is comfortable and fever is low, dress her snuggly and give some warm liquids to gently assist the body's fever production! You can give chamomile or Boneset tea. This allows the blood vessels to relax, the obstructed pores to open, and the toxic waste materials to wash out in perspiration.

~ If the child sweats and complains of heat, dress her lightly and let her throw off her covers.

There is no need for us parents to have "fever phobia".

Knowledge is power - fevers are a good thing!

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