Fever - What to Do? Fever Reassurance
Health by design the podcast where we explore your brilliant biology, current research and successful traditions to give you the health of your life. (player is below transcript.)
As A parent, there's nothing more scary than to see your children be sick or have a fever and not know what to do. This is the intro to Dr. Mendelson's chapter on fever. When our children were small, this chapter from the book, how to raise a healthy child in spite of your doctor gave me such reassurance. He affirmed that I could trust their little body's healing mechanism, keeping them hydrated, even though they never seem to want it when they were sick.
But when the fever would get close to 104 degrees, I'd make them drink a little water, and that seemed to cool them down.
The other day in a health class, I teach. A brilliant nurse and I had a discussion that led to an epiphany as well as the realization that this is not common wisdom and needs to be shared.
She was a trauma nurse for many years and said she had seen children come into the ER with febrile seizures. I mentioned that in the 1930s, that was figured out that a keto diet or by eliminating carbohydrates and sugars, they could stop seizures in children. Was it possible that febrile seizures had something to do with sugar? Maybe more than with the fever? She thought for a quick moment and said every one of them, every one of the children who had febrile seizures had been given a sugary electrolyte drink and either ibuprofen or aspirin before the seizure -something to consider.
And with no further ado wisdom from Dr. Mendelson
When our children were little, one of the things that really gave me peace of mind was information from a book called how to raise a healthy child, in spite of your doctor, this is going to cover it. Some of the information from that book about fever, so that you too can have peace, even if your children get fever.
I love wellness mama. One of the things she said was that the book is really, really valuable. And even though it was written in the seventies, the information that he has there is just as important, if not more so than then, the only thing she had, he had a challenge with saying that, give a baby a drop, a whiskey that calm them down. And she said she wouldn't do that. But Mendelson is pretty amazing. One of the reviews on Amazon said," Dr. Mendelson was a very good person, requires to have courage to go against a whole professional life to speak in behalf of the truth."
And with that intro, I'm going to go into what he has to say about when your child has a fever. So first Dr. Mendelson gives a list of
truths about fever that are different than what we've ever maybe heard before.
The first one he mentions is that the very fact that fever is their first concern implies that there is something implicitly dangerous about fever itself. And then the inevitable conclusion is that it is necessary and desirable to treat your child with drugs, to bring the fever down. And Mendelssohn says that is not so. When thinking about a fever. It's not something to be concerned about if it's an infection like a bacterial or a viral infection, and most of the time that's true. Now, if this is a newborn baby, he has the caveat that if the baby was born in a hospital, especially the tools that they might inject into the head to be able to monitor the baby as the mother's giving birth; those openings can cause infections. Just being in a hospital setting can expose the baby to things that they are more likely to have a problem with. And so with a newborn in the first few months of life, if they have a fever at any level, he definitely demands that you take your newborn baby to the doctor. .
In the first few months of life overdressing as a possible cause. But the presence of fever doesn't mean that you need to do anything at all. And if your doctor implies that it does it's because he needs to feel like he's doing something no matter what, when you bring child to him.
So number three, he said the fevers you should be concerned about, usually stem from an obvious cause. So these causes are more likely to be if they swallowed a poison. Or if the fever's accompanied by unconsciousness, but otherwise a fever is a pretty normal way that the body rid of viruses and bacteria that the child may be exposed to. So the common, cold and influenza are the most common sources of elevated body temperatures in children of all ages.
And the fevers can range from 1 0 1 to 1 0 5. And it not be a big concern if you're pretty sure that that's why they have the fever. He found it interesting that as he asked his patients, what they thought a high fever was, the range was tremendous and nobody could seem to agree, which corresponds with his fact to number eight from this book, there is no consistent relationship between the height of a child's temperature and the severity of a disease.
Knowing your child's level, precisely a fever that had has, will tell you nothing about how sick the child is, or if the fever is produced by a bacterial or viral infection, there's no benefit to measuring the climb of the fever. It just magnifies your fears and could upset the child. So unless your child's fever is accompanied by additional symptoms, such as vomiting, Or respiratory difficulties.
It need not be of concern, even if it reaches 105 degrees. And his point number nine says untreated fevers caused by a viral and bacterial infection do not rise inexorably and will not exceed 105 degrees. And our kids didn't get sick a lot when they were little, but none of them ever got a fever over 104.
And that didn't last. I think I had one that was pretty concerning because it lasted about 36 hours. Usually it would last a very short time, but both our children are healthy adults now. And that wasn't a big challenge. One of the things that he says that is important to do is make sure that they stay hydrated because as they're often perspiring more or having rapid respiration or coughing or with a runny nose or vomiting and diarrhea. All those things have the potential of dehydrating the child. So keeping them hydrated, he even suggests eight ounces every hour, which I know is really hard for me to do. Definitely keep them as hydrated as you can.
But when a child gets a fever or gets exposed to something viral or bacterial, Any kind of infection, your child's response of their body is by manufacturing additional white blood cells called leukocytes.
These leukocytes destroy bacteria and viruses, and they also remove damaged tissue and irritating materials from the body. The activity of the white cells is also increased and they move more rapidly to the site of infection. Then the fever is brought on by the process of pyrogens. It's something to rejoice over, not something to fear because the pyrogens are fighting the infection that the child is exposed to, but that's not all that's happening.
Germs need iron to thrive. And when the body starts sending out these , it's also a signal hide iron in the liver so that that's not used by the bacteria to multiply. And just as a side note, he doesn't mention it here, but one of the other things that allows bacteria to multiply is sugars.
So definitely cut out the carbohydrates and the sugars when a child has a fever or an illness of any kind. One of the biggest concerns of a parent is what you've heard about -saying that a high fever would cause brain damage. And he addresses that in this book as well. He says, is produced by viral or bacterial infection will not cause brain damage or permanent physical harm, your child's cold influenza or any other infection won't produce a fever that exceeds 106 degrees. Below that level, The fever produces no lasting harms, high fevers do not cause convulsions. They result when the temperature rises at an extremely rapid rate, one study of 1,706 children who had suffered febrile convulsions failed to disclose a single death or motor defects.
The one thing to be really concerned about is using aspirin with a fever. Yes. That's been shown to be associated with Reye's syndrome when given to children with influenza or chicken pox. And so that's a reason why many doctors have switched to prescribing acetaminophen or Tylenol. But the reality is that the fever is doing your child's body, a benefit by burning off the infection.
You don't want to stop that benefit to your child. I hope this helps.
Yesterday, I got a text from a friend, and I sent her this audio and I said, hopefully it's helpful. Let me know if it's all stuff you knew, or if it was helpful reassurance, she said definitely helpful reassurance.
So may this reassure you.