Many of my Red Bank New Jersey patients ask me what should be done when faced with a fever so I have decided to put together some information for educational purposes.
I have worked to educate patients in Monmouth County for over fifteen years on the body’s ability to heal itself and on concepts in wellness. I am raising three children naturally. My three children are very healthy. Like most children, they get sick periodically. Unlike most parents, I treat them naturally. When they get a fever (which happens periodically) I have always taken a natural approach. Only one time did I need medical intervention and when I did, it was very effective. In my opinion, due to the natural approach, my children’s immune systems are stronger than most and they consequently get sick less or when they get sick, they heal up quickly and naturally.
So let’s look at a fever:
A fever is defined as a moderate increase in temperature, common in the young. Most fevers result from minor causes and are of less significance in an adult.
A normal temperature for the human body is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. There are number of traditional responses that the majority of the population will use to lower a fever which include drugs, cool bath, etc. Tylenol, an Analgesic /Antipyretic is a very common drug used to fight a fever. Tylenol lowers fever by interfering with the temperature and heat regulatory center in the brain (hypothalamus). This directly interrupts the natural communication between the immune system and the nervous system.
Lowering a fever with medication is a common approach with most fevers. However, what most people do not realize is that there are potential side effects from the medication and theoretically from the process of unnaturally lowering a fever. To better understand this process let’s look at what happens during a fever.
So what exactly is happening when you have a fever?
Body recognizes foreign invader.
Immune system relays message to the temperature center of the brain.
The temperature center (hypothalamus) raises “set point” for body temperature.
Increased temperature helps to destroy the invader.
Immune system relays another message to brain (decrease temperature to normal).
Does the Body Need Help?
A fever is one of the body’s most powerful defense mechanisms against foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria. The body’s immune system has evolved for tens of thousands of years to deal with these environmental pathogens and has come up with this ingenious system of changing the body’s homeostasis upon insult of the foreign invader to create an environment whereby the virus or bacteria cannot exist.
In other words, the fever is a normal response and is the body’s way of treating itself.
When medication is introduced to treat the fever, interference occurs between the brain (the hypothalamus specifically) and the immune system. Now the body has to deal with both the medication and the foreign invader and there are plausible theories suggesting that this interference prolongs illness by weakening the immune system.
So what should be done if a child has a fever?
Many parents are frightened when their child has a fever, when in fact it is one of the most powerful defense mechanisms we have against disease and infection. It is widely known that a fever activates the child’s immune system. In many cases a fever actually strengthens the immune system and helps to prevent susceptibility to other illnesses later in life. Medical pediatrician Dr. Uwe Stave states: “Fever attacks can affect children in quite a positive way. Even though physical strength is reduced, the child may disclose a wealth of new interests and skills. After a fever, the child reveals a spurt of development and maturation.”
Parents need to stay calm. Monitor the fever every 1-2 hours. Make sure to increase fluid intake and rest in cool clothing/light sheets. While many people think that a cool bath or alcohol can help, this is not the case. In fact, a warm sponge bath should be applied. Medical intervention may be necessary if the fever is above 102 degrees for more than 3 days.
Parents should help their children understand that a fever is a natural, necessary part of healing and not a disease or sickness in and of itself. Allowing the body to fight the infection naturally will give the child the best opportunity to fight off future infections
George Wootan, M.D., author of Pediatrics: A Course for Parents, reports that the height of the fever has nothing to do with the severity of the disease. He states that the child’s body will regulate its inner temperature as is needed. Even Hippocrates, the father of medicine, taught that a fever was a useful tool for the body to respond to disease and infection.
There is a less likelihood of medical intervention if the child is continuing to take in fluids and if the child maintains a relatively normal level of energy. If the child is listless or is not taking in fluids after several hours than seek medical attention.
Also make sure to keep an eye out for serious signs such as a stiff neck, difficulty breathing, decrease urine output, extreme pain and irritability. Seek immediate medical attention if any of these occur.
A report in the Pediatrics Infectious Disease Journal evaluated the use of antibiotic therapy in the treatment of strep throat and ear infections. The researchers compared two groups, the first one given the antibiotic immediately after the symptoms occurred, and the other group receiving delayed treatment or none at all.
In the immediately-treated group, the symptoms (fever, sore throat, painful swallowing, headache, abdominal pain, swollen glands, lethargy, irritability, and loss of appetite) lessened, and recovery time was reduced. But when the treatment was delayed or not administered at all, there were fewer recurrent episodes of strep throat and ear infections. Over a four month period, the children who were given the antibiotic immediately when the symptoms first occurred experienced two and a half times more bouts of strep throat. Similar results were reported for ear infections when treated immediately; those that received antibiotics immediately had more ear infections than those with delayed treatment or no treatment at all.
The conclusion of this study and other studies like it indicate that antibiotics may not be the best route in many cases.
Chiropractic Care and a Fever
Gentle Chiropractic Care can stimulate the immune system through the well established connections between the nervous system and the immune system. Specifically, nerves in the upper neck area play an important role with the immune system. This process has been shown to improve immune function and allow the body to fight more effectively against foreign invaders.
Homeopathic Care and a Fever
Homeopathy is another natural way to facilitate the body’s immune system allowing it to heal.
Please feel free to contact me if you wish to learn more about any of the information I have provided above.
Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only and is in no way intended to be used in the treatment of any condition.