by Dr. Melanie Dockter D.C., CACCP
Many infants and children develop high fevers with minor viral illnesses. Fever is an important part of the body’s defense against infection. Most bacteria and viruses that cause infections in people thrive best at 98.6 °F.1 The American Academy of Pediatrics describes that fever is not a disease, but a sign that your body is doing what it’s supposed to do to fight infection. They quote: “Fever is not an illness, rather, it is a symptom of sickness and is usually a positive sign that the body is fighting infection.”
It is more important to watch the behavior of your child versus the reading on the thermometer. If your child is drinking, urinating or responding well they can be monitored safely from home. The goal should be your child’s comfort, not reducing the fever. Fevers are safe and a natural way to control the body’s immune response. Sleep is more important than waking a child for his or her next medication dose.
There are many benefits of having a fever when a child or adult is experiencing flu-like symptoms. Many of these benefits help ward off the cause of the illness. Antibodies and white blood cells typically elevate in order to fight off the virus or bacteria. Therefore, lowering a fever with medications is not recommended. Medications can cause potential side effects including liver damage and stomach upset. Febrile lowering drugs can also mask your symptoms telling you to return to work or play before the body is ready. Medications may actually prolong the illness. A series of vaccine studies done at the University of Maryland concluded that aspirin and acetaminophen suppressed production of antibodies and increased cold symptoms, lengthening the time of infection. The current study compared the duration of illness in those who received the medication with those who did not and found that flu sufferers who took one of the anti-fever medications were sick an average of 3.5 days longer than people who did not take either of the drugs2.
However, there is a time and a place to seek medical attention. Necessity of intervention is recommended if there is presence of the following:
- Fever in an infant younger than 3 months (at any temperature)
- Fever above 102.2 degrees F in children between 3 months and 36 months, if they appear ill
- Anytime a fever rises over 104.5 degrees F
How to Help Break a Fever Naturally:
- Place lukewarm cloths on the back of infant/child neck, armpits, inner thighs. DO NOT submerge child in cold water. It will only create shivering and make the fever rise higher.
- Push fluids. Breastmilk and water are the best options. Avoid the sugary Gatorades and Powerades. Aim for at least eight ounces of water every two hours.
- Soak socks in apple cider vinegar. Ring out the socks and place on the feet.
- Lavender and frankincense are great essential oils and safe for child. Mix with coconut oil and rub on the spine and bottom of the feet.
- Dress in light clothing and give tepid baths. Epsom salt in the bath water can help alleviate muscle aches.
Get adjusted by your chiropractor. Chiropractors do not treat fevers. A chiropractor detects and corrects the vertebral subluxation complex. If there is restriction in vertebral segments this can cause interference with the nervous system. Therefore, maintaining or returning to a normal body temperature may be impaired. Once the proper chiropractic adjustment is given the body usually responds in a short period of time. This is not to say that a fever will break, as in some cases the fever will actually rise allowing the body to better fight off invading bacteria before returning to normal at a later period of time.3
- Kaneshiro, Neil. MD. Fever. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. January 29, 2010 http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003090.htm. Accessed Feb. 21, 2012
- University of Maryland schools of medicine and pharmacy. Pharmacotherapy, December 2000; 20: 1417-1422
- Zell, Paul D.C. Fevers. International Chiropractic Pediatric Association. March/April 2001