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When you hear the word fever, what is your first thought? I have to admit, fevers used to scare me a little too. Once I understand what a fever was and why our bodies get them, it made complete sense. Fevers are not bad, not bad at all! In fact, they are GOOD!
DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a doctor and I am not giving medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional if needed. I am just a mother with the goal to help and provide information to other mothers out there and share my personal experiences and opinions.
A fever is your body’s natural defense
A fever is your body’s natural defense mechanism to fight off any bacteria, toxin, or virus from your body.
Allowing a fever to run its course will actually help you get better quicker.
It seems like when a fever is present, more often than not it is accompanied by this unnecessary fear and terror.
We either rush to administer fever-reducing drugs or hurry over to the doctor.
Usually, neither of these things are necessary. Unless the fever is accompanied with additional symptoms such as vomiting or respiratory difficulty, there really should be no concern.
I am going to share a few different ways why a fever is good, and my ultimate goal is to help you become more familiar with what a fever is so that you don’t have fever phobia.
First off, what is a fever?
A fever is often referred to as a bodily temperature exceeding 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. You can take your child’s temperature a few different ways.
Axillary is under the arm and I find it the most useful for a young baby, although rectal is often said to be more accurate. Taking a temperature orally can be a good option if you can get your child to cooperate.
A digital thermometer can be another good tool to have on hand for accuracy and convivence, plus there seems to be a good selection to choose from nowadays.
Although, we seem to quickly pull out the thermometer the moment our child feels slightly warm, please remember not to treat the number it shows. It is important to treat your child not the thermometer reading.
What causes a fever?
A fever is the body’s natural response to an infection or illness.
If your child has a fever you actually should be grateful, as that means their body is on high alert and doing its job to get rid of whatever it needs to in order to recover.
Bacteria and viruses actually thrive and do well in normal body temperature but cannot survive in hotter temperatures.
When your child gets a fever, it is the body’s natural defense to fight off all of that nasty stuff they don’t want.
Bodies are actually pretty remarkable that they know how to do this, and that is why it is so important to understand fevers.
Are fevers good for your body?
YES! YES! AND, YES! Sorry, but I just can’t express that enough.
I might sound like a broken record, but fevers are good!
There is so much misconception around fevers that we usually just become scared and worried when a fever hits.
It is very important to understand that a fever is not the illness but is a symptom of an illness.
You often hear to bring the fever down and alternate different over the counter medicines to control the number.
I hate to break it to you, but that is probably one of the worse things you can do.
As long as your child isn’t experiencing other problems in conjunction with the fever, it really isn’t anything you should worry about, or certainly something you shouldn’t suppress.
Here are 6 reasons why fevers are GOOD for your body.
- Fevers help your body get better faster
- They fight off the infection
- Fevers strengthen your immune system
- Fevers stimulate white blood cells
- They can remove wastes and toxins from the body.
- Fevers increase the production of disease-fighting antibodies
As you can see, a fever has many benefits that seem to be fairly unknown.
Allowing a fever to run its course is so much more productive, useful and safe for the body.
Why reducing or suppressing a fever can do more harm than good
There are quite a few reasons why it is best to avoid reducing or suppressing a fever.
As a fever is your body’s natural way of fighting off an infection or virus, using over the counter drugs can actually make the illness last longer.
Conventional methods for reducing fever can actually do a lot more harm than good. Tylenol and Motrin seem to be the most common for helping with fevers in children.
Although they may bring the temperature down, they also both have side effects that are best to avoid.
I am not saying medical intervention or medications are always bad, they are just not my first go-to when I am dealing with a fever.
Tylenol or Motrin?
If absolutely necessary, I would choose a dye-free children’s Motrin over Tylenol.
Tylenol or acetaminophen depletes glutathione which is the body’s most important self-producing antioxidant.
When glutathione gets shut down so does the body’s pathway to get rid of toxins, wastes, diseases, and other unwanted viruses or illnesses.
These can be quite detrimental to your child who is experiencing a fever because the body is already working overtime to expel those exact things.
When you administer Tylenol, it is basically shutting down the body’s natural defense to fight and restore back to normal health.
Check out this video from pediatrician Doctor Paul Thomas who shares some other great insight on Tylenol and its dangers.
Really try to do your best and avoid running to the medicine cupboard and giving your child over the counter fever reducers.
If I reduce the fever, why does that slow down the body’s process to heal?
Ok, I am all about learning through analogies. I don’t know about you, but they often help me understand the concept better.
I am going to share with you a simple analogy in hopes to make the answer to this question crystal clear.
Imagine you are a captain of an army and you have this big battle you are about to fight in.
You have all of your troops ready at the front line, and then you send them out into the field in full force to combat the enemy.
While your army is fighting and in the thick of things, you suddenly start calling troops to come back in and sit on the sidelines.
You keep pulling men in by the dozen until you hardly have any of your men out there. The enemy now has the upper hand and begins to take the victory.
This is exactly how it is when your child has a fever and you suppress that fever. You basically are putting your child in harm’s way.
You are essentially saying “no, no I don’t want any of your troops to fight off the infection or illness.”
When you bring that fever down you are preventing the body from naturally defending itself and allowing for the illness, infection, or waste to continue to grow and live in your child’s body.
Remember the body increases its temperature to destroy those unwanted viruses and bacteria.
Fevers up to 104 are completely normal and productive for the body.
Just like pulling troops off of the front line, bringing down a fever is not allowing the body to be in full force to fight off the infection or virus causing the fever.
Another reason why giving medicine to reduce a fever can be counterproductive is that suddenly your child feels better and then doesn’t want to rest.
Rest is crucial for your body to repair itself.
If you pump your child’s body full of OTC fever-reducing medicine, not only can your child experience side effects, your child is not allowing the body to recoup, rest, and recover.
Will my baby get brain damage from a high fever?
Contrary to popular belief, your Aunt Sue doesn’t need to keep telling you that a high fever will give your child brain damage.
You do not need to worry because as remarkable as our bodies are, they actually will not allow the body to get to such a high temperature to cause any harm.
They state only a temperature exceeding 108 degrees Fahrenheit can cause brain damage.
A fever that is caused due to an illness would not reach that high, and temperatures of that number would only occur if other factors were present (hot environment- being left in a hot car etc.)
Won’t a high fever cause my child to have a seizure?
The short answer is no. Only a small percentage of children will ever experience a seizure while having a fever.
Febrile seizures will only happen when there is a rapid rise in temperature not because of a high number on your thermometer.
Don’t get me wrong, while seizures are scary and unnerving, to say the least, they don’t cause permanent harm and usually don’t last too long.
A seizure is basically your body’s way of keeping the fever in check.
I highly recommend adding this book to your shelf at home.
It goes into great detail about fevers and their benefits and also lists how to handle any complications you may encounter.
Treat your child not the fever
This is a total mind shift, but it is SO important.
Treating your child over the number on the thermometer is crucial. It is often easy to think “oh the higher the fever the sicker the child!” this is not true.
Think of it this way, there is a child with a fever of 103 degrees Fahrenheit but still seems somewhat comfortable and happy and doesn’t have any other concerning symptoms.
Another child has a fever of 100.3 degrees Fahrenheit but is lifeless, pale and confused, which fever would you be more concerned about?
That’s right! The 100.3 fever not the 103 fever.
Every child’s body is going to respond differently to a fever and that is ok!
You know your baby or child better than anyone else, so monitor their behavior and keep an eye on them.
Instead of gasping in shock once you take a look at the thermometer reading, take a look at your child and examine them instead.
What should I do instead when my child has a fever?
We all hate seeing our little ones not feeling well, and let’s be honest dealing with a fever does make you feel pretty rotten.
There are still plenty of ways to help support the body during a fever.
Avoiding OTC medication to reduce a fever doesn’t mean you should avoid other methods to help make your child feel more comfortable.
Supporting your child’s body while they have a fever is SO important.
Make sure to keep your little one well hydrated.
Lots of fluids are key in this situation. Whatever you can entice them to drink, just do your best to keep plenty of fluids in their system.
It may seem simple and obvious, but rest is really needed while a fever is present, and the body is warding off any illness or infection.
Try to keep things relaxed and quiet to allow the body to recoup and recover.
I like to add additional immune support such as elderberry syrup, probiotics, and vitamin C.
These three things will really give the body extra support and added immune strength.
Using peppermint essential oil can be helpful to naturally keep the fever in check.
Apply diluted to the bottom of the feet to start. You can also apply down the spine if you feel comfortable with that.
Belladonna can be a great homeopathic remedy to have on hand in case of an onset of a high fever.
At what temperature should I be worried?
My baby has experienced a few of fevers so far. A couple lower grade fevers and one that crept a little higher.
With my understanding of why fevers are so beneficial to the body, none of the fevers caused any concern.
You may be wondering at what temperature you should be concerned or give any conventional medicine. To be honest, I can’t really give you a specific number.
My baby has had a 104 fever and I just monitored him closely and only gave him one dose of Motrin when it crept a little higher.
Educate yourself and follow your gut. These are the best two pieces of advice I can offer.
Keep an eye on your child while they are fevering and watch for any additional symptoms that might cause more of a concern.
Remember the higher the fever means that the body is strong and doing all it possibly can to restore back to normal health.
When should you see a doctor?
Now there are times you definitely would want to seek medical attention or get immediate emergency help.
Here are a few reasons when you shouldn’t hesitate to get professional medical care.
- Your child is under the age of 3 months and has a fever exceeding 100.4.
- If the fever persists longer than 3 days.
- If the fever is accompanied by other symptoms such as vomiting, respiratory difficulty, a persistent cough or your child looking otherwise seriously ill.
- Your child has possibly been exposed to toxins or poisons that could have caused the fever.
- If your child is listless and cannot be aroused.
- Follow your gut, and if you feel as though there could be something else going on, don’t hesitate to call the doctor. Mothers always know best!
Fevers are something that are just inevitable sometimes. Every child will experience a fever at some point, but it is not something you need to worry about or have major fear and anxiety from!
Hopefully, you have a better understanding of fevers now and have the knowledge of why they are so important.
Next time you encounter a fever in your family, I hope I have been able to provide some useful content and helpful tips that can make the whole experience better.
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