Fever phobia is fairly common among parents of young children, and even some adults when they become sick. We worry that something serious is going on. Most often, that’s not the case. Naturopathic physicians offer sound advice for managing fever.
What is a fever?
Fever occurs when our body’s internal thermostat (an organ in the brain called the hypothalamus) shifts our body’s normal set-point upward, indicating that something is out of balance. It can be brought on by a virus, bacterial infection, heat exhaustion, inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, teething, pain and vaccinations just to name a few. Symptoms may include:
- Chills and shivering
- Headache and muscle aches
- Loss of appetite
While these symptoms are uncomfortable, be comforted knowing that fever is a natural and beneficial response of the immune system. It plays a key role in helping the body fight off infections and can even help strengthen immunity. It typically resolves on its own.
You should know . . .
- For infants, toddlers and young children, a slight fever generally will go away with attentive care and holistic therapy such as those outlined in this newsletter. However, for infants younger than two months, fever should be discussed with your family doctor.
- If a child is unable to hold eye contact/seems unresponsive, has intense neck pain or uncontrolled vomiting, seek emergency medical care. Adults should seek emergency care if they become confused, experience abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, intense head or neck pain, or have a seizure.
- Children between the ages of six months and five years might experience febrile seizures. The seizure is triggered by a rapid change of temperature. About one-third of children who have one febrile seizure will have another one, most commonly within a year. This is generally not harmful and unlikely to cause long-term damage. If a seizure occurs, loosen tight clothing and gently hold the child on the ground in a safe area to prevent injury.
Holistic, Gentle Ways to Manage Fever
Since most fevers resolve on their own, don’t be quick to reach for over-the-counter meds to lower it. Instead, consider the following simple therapies aimed at supporting the body’s innate ability to heal and restore balance.
- Fast the Fever. Never feed a fever. The body’s resources should not be diverted to digesting food while it’s fighting fever. Drink clear broth, homemade electrolyte replacement drinks, water or suck on ice cubes.
- Keep a Journal. Record when the fever started, temperature, how you measured (oral, ear, rectal, etc.), and note any symptoms. Be sure to measure temperature consistently, not with different instruments each time (note differences in recording methods). Also, note if there was exposure to anyone who’s been ill. List all medications, vitamins and supplements taken. You’ll need this if you have to see the doctor or go to the ER.
- Use Hydrotherapy. This home remedy increases comfort while supporting the body’s ability to lower temperature. It involves the use of cold towels or sheets with a wool blanket over top and all wrapped around the body. Details are in the therapy section of this newsletter.
The bottom line is that a fever is the body’s attempt to restore balance. Your holistic practitioner may have other suggestions and strategies for supporting the body through a fever so be sure and check in with them!