It’s true. When we get sick, none of us use fever reducers. Not even for the baby. Sound crazy and dangerous? Read on, my friend!
*Note: This post is in reference to our average, generally healthy family. It is about what we choose and why, it may not apply to all people in all situations. Please read the entire post before commenting, specifically, the final point.*
Will a Fever Hurt Me/My Child?
If it’s due to a regular old illness, such as a cold or ear infection, the answer is “no”. When is the answer “yes”?
A rise in temperature requires medical attention when:
- It is caused by over-heating known as “heat-stroke”. I had heat-stroke as a teen and, although no brain damage was caused, I have been unable to tolerate extremely humid and hot weather since then. If I had been treated, it is possible I wouldn’t have had long-term consequences.
- If it is caused by poisoning. If a child ingests an unknown or dangerous substance, contact poison control immediately. Toxic substances can cause a fever.
What about brain damage??
- Brain damage is not a real concern until the temperature rises over at least 107.6 degrees.
- The human body doesn’t raise it’s temperature above 105 to 106 degrees in response to a virus or bacteria (source).
What about febrile seizures??
- Febrile seizures are not caused by high fevers, they are caused by a rapid rise in temperature.
- Febrile seizures are considered by most doctors to be harmless, though they can be scary.
- They do not cause brain damage.
- An especially long febrile seizure (over an hour) is cause for an evaluation by a neurologist, but seldom indicates predisposition to other types of seizure.
- If a child stops breathing during the seizure (or at any time), this can be dangerous and may require emergency medical help. (This is an update for some people who apparently thought I was saying not breathing isn’t an emergency. )
- Learn more here.
What about a high temperature indicating a serious illness?
- A high fever does not necessarily indicate serious illness. I’ve had a fever over 103 for nothing more than a cold.
- A lack of a fever does not mean a child is healthy. Consider the other symptoms. If a child is non-responsive or has bloody diarrhea but has no fever, call the doc! I had pneumonia (I was coughing up blood every few minutes!) with absolutely no fever at all.
What about dehydration?
- Yes, yes, yes! Finally there is something to be concerned about! Dehydration, especially in babies or very young children, can be extremely dangerous.
- A few easy ways to check for dehydration are:
- Pull back the lower lip and see how moist the mouth is. If it’s slick and wet, you’re good. If it’s a bit gummy, push those fluids. If it’s very gummy and dry, call the doc if you can’t get the child to drink.
- Monitor wet diapers/bathroom breaks. If the child is urinating infrequently and the urine is dark, that’s dehydration.
- No tears or sweat. A lack of tears when crying is pretty serious and probably warrants a call to the doc. If a child has very dry skin and is refusing liquids, this could be dehydration, so check inside the lower lip.
- Confusion, disorientation or non-responsiveness. Call the doc! These are serious and rehydration will probably require a saline IV.
- Keeping hydrated, rather than trying to remedy dehydration, is the best thing. Here are our favorite ways to get liquids into a child with a high fever.
- Coconut water: This is God’s original hydration drink! It’s full of electrolytes and has a mild flavor. Mix it with a bit of organic apple juice or some fresh lemon juice with honey.
- Broth: Full of nutrients, put some slightly warm broth in a sippy cup and stir in several good pinches of Celtic sea salt. The unrefined salt will help the liquid be properly absorbed.
- High-liquid foods: Try apple sauce, organic “jello”, yogurt, soup (pureed?) and other foods with a high water content.
What about very young babies or immune-compromised people?
- Very young babies: You may want to have the baby checked by a doc, but make sure that it is a doctor who will not over-react and medicate “just to be on the safe side”. And remember that you are asking for their medical opinion, you are not handing over the reigns of decision-making to them. You are the parent and you get to choose what medical advice to take and what advice to decline. Unless they can give me a very good medical reason to lower a fever, I’ll just let it do it’s thing.
- Immune-compromised individuals and those with serious chronic health issues have so much going on in their bodies that it’s not possible to give a simple answer to such a complex question. As with an infant, I would recommend making sure that you have a naturally-minded doctor who will not over-medicate. If they can’t give you a good medically-based reason to give drugs, seek a second opinion or simply decline their advice, depending on the situation. If there is a legitimate medical reason to control the fever (for example, being epileptic or having previous brain damage) ask a naturally-minded doctor for the most gentle option possible. (You can see a few examples of people with serious health issues that might require fever-reduction in the comments, below).
Be sure to watch for part two to learn why I actually consider fevers to be a *good* thing!
- Christian Mommy Blogger: Fellowship Friday
- Organic Aspirations: Eco Kids Linky
- The Prairie Homestead: Barnhop
- The Better Mom
- Natural Living Mama: Natural Living Monday
- Like A Mustard Seed: Living Green Tuesday
- Growing Home: Teach Me Tuesday
- Be Simply Better
- Cornerstone Confessions: Titus 2 Tuesday
- Crafty Garden Mama: Tuesday Greens
- Teaching What is Good
- Raising Homemakers
- A Wise Woman Builds Her Home
- We Are That Family: Works For Me Wednesday
- The Welcoming House: Welcoming Wednesday
- Authentic Simplicity: Healthy 2Day Wednesday
- Little Natural Cottage: Natural Living
- Our Simple Country Life: Hearts 4 Home
- A Delightful Home: Your Green Resource
- A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa: Simple Lives Thursday
- Frugally Sustainable: Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways