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You are hereHome › Facts and Myths About Fevers in Children
Facts and Myths About Fevers in Children
Facts and Myths About Fevers in Children
Fevers in kids can be scary. Defined as a rectal temperature above 100.4oF (38oC), fever occurs more often in infants and young children than in adults because of their small body size and immature immune systems.
But as unsettling as they can be, fevers are usually a good thing. They’re the immune system’s way of responding to infection. That’s why any treatment should address discomfort rather than trying to bring temperatures back to normal, according to a report in the journal Pediatrics.
Natural treatment of fevers
Naturopaths have long recommended the same approach suggested by the Pediatrics report: Treat the symptoms, but allow the fever to do its work. Naturopathic physicians and allopathic doctors alike will start treating any fever complaint with a full evaluation to rule out serious bacterial illness like pneumonia or meningitis. If serious causes are ruled out, naturopaths will then draw on their long history of supporting fevers and improving comfort—using anything from water therapy (baths and compresses, for instance) to homeopathy and herbs.
Next time your little one’s temperature rises, first consult your physician to rule out any serious concerns (this is especially important for babies in their first months of life), and then try some of these naturopathic approaches to fever management.
Hydrotherapy techniques are safe and easy to use at home. As the body’s largest organ, the skin has a lot of control over heat elimination and conservation. That’s why applying cool water to part or all of the body can reduce body temperature and provide comfort. One common hydrotherapy treatment recommended in young children is a tepid (81–92oF) or neutral (93–96oF) sponge bath. Another, known as the “warming sock treatment,” consists of putting on dry wool socks over cold, wet cotton socks while keeping the child covered and warm.
Herbs that induce sweating and cool the body can also be helpful, either as teas, tinctures or frozen into popsicles. Some well-known fever-helpers are yarrow, catnip, linden, elderflower, meadowsweet and peppermint, which can be combined with immune-enhancing herbs such as echinacea or Andrographis. For a restless or uncomfortable child, chamomile can be added. Other herbs can treat related complaints; for example, buchu can help with urinary tract health, goldenseal supports the gastrointestinal system, and hyssop aids the respiratory tract. Be sure to consult a naturopath or herbalist for help in selecting the appropriate herbs and dosages for your child.
Infants and young children respond very well to homeopathic remedies, which are known for their safety and ease of administering. Supporting one’s innate ability to heal and encouraging the body to shift from disease to health, homeopathy treats the whole person, not the disease. For this reason, it’s a good idea to consult with a homeopath, who can choose the exact remedy for your child’s specific symptoms. But if you can’t make it to a homeopath, there’s no harm in trying one of the combination remedies on the market, which typically contain the most common fever remedies.
When your child has a fever, it’s important to watch for dehydration, irritability, decreased activity level and feeding. Instead of just treating the fever, you can work with your healthcare provider to reduce these symptoms and allow the fever to fight the infection.
If you do decide to use a fever reducer, there’s no need to wake your child to give it to him—just wait until he wakes up and give it to him then. Sleep is one of the body’s best healing mechanisms and is far more important than maintaining a “normal” temperature.
Newborns and children with central nervous system conditions will need to be handled more carefully, so be sure to contact your doctor at the first sign of fever in these children.
For the common fever, though, you can be comfortable following the advice of naturopathic doctors and the American Academy of Pediatrics: Rule out serious infectious disease, learn about the beneficial effects of fevers and use therapies designed to strengthen immune function while providing symptom relief.
By: Erin Psota, ND
Dr. Psota completed her medical studies at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in 2005 after obtaining her Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Waterloo. Following three years of private practice in Canada, her passion regarding pediatric care led her to Arizona in pursuit of a unique Pediatric Residency opportunity at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine. During her residency, Dr. Psota was involved in teaching pediatrics and supervising student clinical rotations at a free clinic in an underserved area of downtown Phoenix. She maintains a private practice in Toronto, is a member of the Pediatric Association of Naturopathic Physicians (PedANP) and is actively involved with the Ontario Board of Directors of Drugless Therapy-Naturopathy.
May 24th, 2012