Don’t Sweat A Fever
Randy Sandaine, N.D.
We all from one time to another will have a fever, or perhaps we as parents/grandparents will have a child with a fever. Our first reaction is to “fix” the problem. This can easily be accomplished by grabbing Tylenol or aspirin in order to bring the temperature down to “normal” range.
However, fever is a “normal” process which stimulates the immune systems to “burn out” the infection. A normal temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, and a fever is anything higher than that. As a Naturopathic physician, I believe a temperature under 104 degrees Fahrenheit is productive and puts the patient at no risk. We’ve been told by our parents or grandparents not to allow a fever to develop because of the risks. In actuality a fever is beneficial and should not be suppressed by giving Tylenol or aspirin. I know this may sound strange to some of you, but the body’s natural function is to protect itself. Children with a fever can scare us the most because their temperature can raise so quickly. This is because children’s vitality or energy is so high. Children have strong constitutions, therefore react very strongly to their environment in comparison to the elderly who may not be able to muster enough energy to have a fever. Up until the age of 7, children only have natural immunity. This means, they do not have specific immunity and as such need to develop or build their own “immune library.” Suppression or fooling the immune system only delays development of the immune system and puts the child at greater risk for chronic illness.
So you ask, “What should I do for a fever?” I recommend monitoring the fever every hour or two, keeping in mind a fever is usually higher at night because the body has freed up more energy to heal. Drinking plenty of water and electrolyte replacements like Recharge, which is a healthy substitute for sports drinks, is highly beneficial. Recharge is available at most grocery stores and health food stores. Sugar drinks are discouraged during a fever as they suppress the immune system and are poor electrolyte replacers. Digestion requires energy that is better utilized by immune system, so the old wives tale is correct, “Don’t feed a fever.”
If the fever rises over 104 degrees Fahrenheit, gentle cooling with a cool, wet cloth is recommended with the intentions of bringing the fever down to 101 degrees, not to the “normal” range. Submerging someone with a fever in cold water will only delay or complicate the natural healing process. Also, if a natural fever (a non-suppressed fever) continues for longer than four days, the “immune library” receives no further benefit. In the rare instance that this occurs, I recommend the patient come to the office for an evaluation.
To many of you this idea is very scary. Having a fever and all the symptoms like shivering, aching, nausea, vomiting, etcetera, can be trying. There are natural products available in my office that will help patients go through the fever more efficiently and quickly that do not suppress the process. I have children myself and have been up those late nights with them during a fever. I can assure you that a few restless nights with a fever is a good trade off for healthier, more vital child. Remember, the child is not “sick”, he is defending himself.