Fevers Have Made My Kids Healthier

98.6Last summer I went totally crunchy. I spent the months delving into all of the posts and comments on the Raising Natural Kids Facebook page, reading books on vaccines, natural remedies, and started to implement lots of these new ideas at home.

I am convinced that since then, my kids have been healthier than they have ever been. That’s not to say that we’ve been operating at 100% health the whole time…but it’s the way that they bounce back that’s been amazing. In fact, the last time I brought one of my kids in for a check-up, the doctor told me, “Hey, whatever you’re doing, keep it up. You’ve avoided my office in one of the worst seasons yet.”

One of the major changes that we made at home is that we no longer treat fevers.

I used to be scared of fevers. I grew up, like many people, with the concept that you need to bring down a fever right away. Evil Fevers!! What I learned, however, is that this is probably the worst thing that you can do.

At this point I’ll mention that I’m not a medical professional and that you should always consult your physician for your specific case: Disclaimer.

I have a friend that uses How to Raise a Healthy Child…In Spite of Your Doctor by Robert S. Mendelsohn, M.D. as her first reference for any health issue that arises with her children. It was published in 1984 and I think it is still absolutely fantastic.

“Most fevers are caused by viral and bacterial infections that the body’s own defense
mechanisms will overcome without medical help.”

Another friend recommended Natural Baby and Childcare, which I’d suggest as a present for any new parents. Here’s what the author, Lauren Feder, M.D. has to say:

“The fever and its accompanying symptoms, while annoying, are vital in helping to strengthen the immune system and ward off future infection.”

Basically, the fever kills whatever else is trying to attack the body. Bring down the fever, and the illness has a chance to take over.

Since I’ve stopped bringing down the fevers, that seems to be all my kids ever get anymore. They’ll get a fever with typically no other symptoms, and within a day or so, it is gone and they are completely healthy again. A fever is a sign of a functioning immune system!

Regarding febrile seizures, that always seem to come up when talking about fever: Seizures can be brought on by a rapid rise in temperature, not high fevers. They are estimated to happen in 2% – 5% of the population are are considered harmless. Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

Combined advice from both books includes Contact a Doctor. If your child has:

  • Fever 104 F or higher that does not respond to home treatment
  • Fever in infants 8 weeks or younger
  • Fever 101 F or hight in infants 8 weeks to 3 months
  • Fever that lasts more than three days in all children
  • Febrile seizure
  • Stiff or painful neck, extreme fussiness, or listlessness
  • Difficulty breathing or vomiting repeatedly

Now I will tell you, it is not always easy. Fevers are no fun. The hardest one we’ve been through was one of the first after committing to following this method. It lasted for more than a day and at the end got up to 104 F when we finally broke down and gave one dose of Tylenol. And then it was gone and he was all better.

A key point is to keep them hydrated during fevers. Make sure the kids are getting enough liquids…and you can monitor how much/often they pee to make sure that fluids are cycling through.

I don’t do much else, except make sure that they are in light clothing. Also, a tip from Dr. Feder’s book is that if the feet are cold during a fever, to warm them up with a hot water bottle (I’ve also used a heating pad or socks) to distribute the heat in the body and move it a bit away from the head.

I don’t intend for this post to be the ultimate guide in what to do when your child gets a fever. My intention is to express the success that I have had with not medicating fevers  and inspire you to find out more.

Do you treat fevers? How?

I recommend the following resources:

Photo credit: sunshinecity, Flickr

As I write this article, I’m finding it hard to find a site that recommends treating fevers. It seems it is such a well-known and undisputed issue…then why are we all raised on Tylenol and Motrin? *Sigh*

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