Fever. Many parents are frightened by the very word. Fever is one of the most common reasons that parents seek medical attention for their children. This is usually because most people tend to view the fever as the disease itself, rather than a sign or symptom of the body adapting to or trying to eliminate an underlying problem (like an infection).
Here’s an example from my own personal experience. My 3-year-old daughter recently came home from daycare not feeling the greatest and running a low fever. (Which I determined just by giving her a hug and feeling that her body was warmer than usual. As moms, we just know when something is not quite right with our children, wouldn’t you agree?)As expected, she didn’t have much of an appetite, and was pretty tired and not interested in a whole lot of activity. I offered her water and got her ready for bed. I chose not to give her something to lower her temperature. She went off to sleep and the next morning was almost back to her usual self, with a bit of a runny nose.
Later that week, a friend of mine told me her little one had been running a fever on and off for the past 4 or 5 days. On day 1, she gave her daughter an over-the-counter remedy for fever, which did the trick. But the fever returned again and again in between doses over the next few days, with the child really not bouncing back as quickly as her mom would have liked.
When we take a look at this common approach to dealing with fever, researchers at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, NY, found that 50% of pediatricians studied told parents to give ibuprofen and acetaminophen in alternating doses. What we as parents really need to understand is that fever is not always a bad thing. It is the body’s natural response to an infection, whether it is viral or bacterial. Fever-reducing drugs will no doubt make the child feel better when they have an infection, but they very likely may cause the illness to linger longer than it would have if left alone. Fever may shorten the duration of illness, kill bacteria and viruses, and enhance the immune response.
So what is a parent to do for their child with a fever? Follow your instincts. Keep your child as comfortable as possible with nutritious food as their appetite dictates, ample sleep, lots of water, and extra comfort from mom and dad. I know my kids are extra snuggly when they don’t feel well, and I really believe holding them close and comforting them is a big part of the healing process.
Treatment of a fever is definitely warranted if your child has cardiovascular or pulmonary diseases, is immunocompromised, or if the temperature is approaching 41 degrees. Life-threatening complications are rare with temperatures below this level, and febrile seizures only occur in 4% of fever patients and most do not cause long term effects. Monitor your child for complete lethargy, unresponsiveness, or twitching, and seek medical help immediately if you suspect a more serious illness like meningitis (symptoms include neck stiffness, vomiting, listlessness, headache, and irritability).
Becoming informed and fighting fever with knowledge is always wise. Respecting the body’s natural intelligence in disease-fighting will allow your children to heal quickly and safely, without risk of damaging side effects from medications that may not be necessary in all cases. Optimal health and wellbeing always comes when the body is functioning at its maximum potential.
By: Dr. Erin McLaughlin and Dr. Pierre Paradis
Doctors of Chiropractic
Hazeldean Family Chiropractic
8-484 Hazeldean Road
Kanata, ON K2L 1V4