For many parents the worst symptom their child can get is a fever. I am hoping to boost your confidence and give you a better understanding of the benefits of a fever.
Let me start by saying, a sick child is not fun! Just like any parent, I do not like to see my child suffering, but I promise you, it is worth it.
I tried to find out why there is the misconception that fever is bad. When did the idea start and who started it? I can not find anything. But I did find this gem: “Doctors are part of the problem,” Dr. Schmitt said. Some of the phobia “comes from doctors and nurses,” he added — “doctors and nurses who weren’t taught about fever and all the wondrous things fever does in the animal kingdom.” NY Times.
I do recall when we vacationed in Put in Bay, Ohio this past summer. We went to Perry’s cave. Named after Captain Perry who won the battle in Lake Erie during the War of 1812. While going through the putt-putt course each hole told us a fact. One of the holes told us Perry died of a fever. I remember well, Jeff and I both just shook our heads. Fevers don’t kill people.
Friday late afternoon we planned to start our trip. I laid Silas down for a nap, he woke with a fever. We decided to go anyway, we didn’t want to disappoint Roman or miss out ourselves. I grabbed my Hyland’s Kids Kit and off we went. He travelled well, we thought quick bug. Unfortunately, we were wrong. Every night he would spike to 104°F-105°F that made for long nights. Everyday the fever would come down, but would return again and spike during the evening. I did give him belladonna, when it reached 105°F, it makes Jeff feel better. I try not to take a temperature until they get over 104° and when I do, it is just verification they are that hot. I do not want to interfere until we are at minimum 104°F and I don’t want it any lower than 103°F. We got home on Monday and he was as good as new, so I thought. Then Tuesday afternoon he had few red spots on his face I just thought heat rash. It wasn’t until Wednesday, when the rash showed up on his trunk, I knew then, we had Roseola.
This is a perfect example of why I don’t break a fever. His rash was minimal and it only lasted 2 days. I contribute the short, faint rash, (I couldn’t get a good picture of it) to the fact, I allowed the fever to burn up the virus.
In 1980, an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association by Dr. Schmitt stated, “most parents were unduly worried about low-grade fever, with temperatures of 38.9°C/102.2°F or less. Their over-concern was designated “fever phobia.” Most parents (52%) believed that *moderate fever with a temperature of 40°C/104°F or less can cause serious neurological side-effects. Hence, most parents treated fever aggressively: 85% gave antipyretic medication (fever reducer) before the temperature reached 38.9°C/102.2°F and 68% sponged the child before the temperature reached 39.5°C/103.10°F. The great concern of parents about fever is not justified. Health education to counteract “fever phobia” should be a part of routine pediatric care. *Wait! He said, 104°F is a moderate fever.
In 2000 JAMA revisited fever phobia. They discovered “fever phobia” was alive and well!
56% of caregivers were very worried about the potential harm of fever in their children, 44% considered a temperature of 38.9°C (102°F) to be a “high” fever. 91% (that is higher than in 1980) of caregivers believed that a fever could cause harmful effects; 21% listed brain damage, and 14% listed death.
Wasn’t the plan to educate in 1980? Why is this not happening and why are doctors and nurses not educated on this common symptom?
Body…The Best Running Machine
When your child develops and infection the body goes to work. The anterior hypothalamus is the body’s temperature regulator, and prostaglandin e2 acts to increase the body’s set point. When the body’s thermostat elevates initially, several mechanisms respond to help raise the internal temperature, thus producing a fever. The concert of mechanisms includes skeletal muscle shivering, increased cellular metabolism, minimization of heat loss through vasoconstriction at the skin, and decreased sweating.
Benefit of Fever
- Decreases growth and reproduction of bacteria and viruses
- Lowers the amount of iron available to bacteria
- Enhances neutrophil migration
- Increases production of superoxides, which can kill invading microbes
- Promotes T lymphocyte production
The first one is self explanatory and without iron bacteria can’t grow.
Neutrophil Migration– Neutrophils are the most abundant white blood cell in humans, and form the body’s first line of cellular defense against infecting microorganisms. While normally found in the blood stream, neutrophils migrate rapidly to sites of infection in tissue.
Superoxides – In particular Superoxide dismutases (SOD) are considered to be antioxidant enzymes. In 1970’s it was observed that cancer cells that have low activity of the mitochondrial form of SOD, MnSOD, grow faster than those with higher activities of MnSOD. SOD, superoxide, and hydrogen peroxide affected the basic biology of cells and tissues. It is now realized that superoxide and hydrogen peroxide are essential for normal cellular and organism function.
T Lymphocyte – A type of white blood cell. T lymphocytes are part of the immune system and develop from stem cells in the bone marrow. They help protect the body from infection and may help fight cancer.
I want my children to get the life long benefit from these cells and enzymes.. Let us ‘think on these things’ and meditate on what we are told in psalms 139:14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
Understanding Febrile Seizures
Roman had a febrile seizure. Thank God! I slept through the whole thing. Jeff woke up while Roman was twitching. He calmly got some cool cloths and softly wiped Roman’s face and held him until he stopped. He never woke me. To this day, I believe The Lord kept me sleeping, because I didn’t need to get in the way. As a Mom, I hear and feel every move my children make, except for that MAJOR one. I am here to tell you, Roman woke up healed and completely recovered that next morning.
Reducing a fever with Tylenol or Ibuprofen will not prevent a febrile seizure.
Febrile seizures are not caused from a high temperature. Febrile seizures can occur in children who have a rapid increase in body temperature. You may not even know that your child has a fever. After a fever has reached a high temperature, the risk of a seizure is probably over.
Febrile seizures usually last 1 to 3 minutes. Normal behavior and activity level should return within 60 minutes of the seizure.
Fortunately, febrile seizures aren’t as dangerous as they may look. They’re usually harmless and typically don’t indicate a long-term or ongoing problem.
Risk of Reducing Fever
A study was conducted on patients admitted to the Surgical ICU. Half of the patients were treated with aggressive fever reduction and half were allowed to have a fever. In the half that had aggressive fever reduction there were more days in the hospital, more infections, and 7 patients died versus only one patient in the group that was not treated for fever.
This study looks at children with Chicken Pox (Varicella). Interestingly, in the children that received the acetaminophen, the symptoms and overall duration of illness was longer.
Finally, this study of influenza patients. Using fever reducers actually prolonged the illness.
What I do to keep my children comfortable:
Lots of snuggles Drink extra fluids (coconut water, kombucha, water kefir, and water).
I give silverbiotics, extra vitamin C and elderberry syrup
When to seek medical attention
1. Fever in a baby less than 3 months old.
2. Fever associated with lethargy, difficulty breathing, or severe pain.
3. Fever in kids with a chronic medical condition (like cancer, sickle cell, etc.).