Usually parents call the doctor, when their children get fever, especially in case of infant younger 3 months, as it can lead into serious bacterial infections, if left untreated. Also, a child who has a seizure with fever should be checked by a physician, at least the first time.
However, fever is actually a signal that an immune system is miss-functioning and in older kids if they do not feel distress while in fever is a great thing. It is evidence that the child has an active immune system. Fever does not harm your brain or your body, although it does increase your need for fluids.
According to the New York Times, parents are not only the people who become profusely concerned.
According to some studies, medical professionals like doctors and nurses are more phobic towards fever as parent.
If the child gets up in the mid- night, with fever. Most parents react with, an immediate call to the physician, for reducing a fever, they might use, fever medicine (antipyretic) right away.
But is your child’s fever really a cause for concern, and is lowering it the best choice?
In most cases, a simple fever is actually a sign that your child’s immune system is working at its best. Virtually all animals naturally develop a fever when they’re fighting a bacterial or viral illness, and this response occurs because it improves your body’s ability to get rid of the bug.
Which in most cases, lowering a fever is unnecessary, it can stop the recovery process of your child, thus prolonging rather than curing the illness more promptly.
Note that fever is not something to be scared off. Research has shown that the higher the fever the stronger it acts as a catalyst effect to nurture stronger immune system. Just like in weight training the heavier weights promote more muscles to form.
Fever-Reducing Drugs Are Not Permoted By The American Academy of Pediatrics
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recognizes that fever is not a disease, but a sign that your body is doing what it’s supposed to do to fight infection.
“Fever is not an illness, rather, it is a symptom of sickness and is usually a positive sign that the body is fighting infection.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics, does not even recommend treating your children with fever-lowering drugs—antipyretics, even if they have high fever.
As their Web site states:
“Fever shouldn’t be treated by medicine if your child has no history of febrile convulsions nor uncomfortable feeling. The fever may be important in helping your child fight the infection.
Even higher temperatures are not in themselves dangerous or significant unless your child has a history of seizures or a chronic disease. Even if your child has a history of a fever-related convulsion and you treat the fever with medication, they may still have this kind of seizure … If he is playful, and is sleeping and eating well, he probably doesn’t require any medications.”
Advantages of Fever
When an organism invades your body, it triggers the release of pyrogen, a substance that signals your brain’s hypothalamus to raise your body’s temperature. This is done through a number of different mechanisms, including:
- Raising the small hairs- piloerection, which suppresses sweating which is a cooling mechanism)
- Restricting blood flow to the skin to minimize heat loss
- Increasing your metabolic rate
- Release of the hormone TRH
Fever actually acts as a launching pad for many beneficial bodily processes both directly or indirectly, which help the body against invasion of virus or bacteria. Some of these benefits include:
- More interferon, a natural antiviral and anticancer substance, is produced, which helps block the spread of viruses to healthy cells
- Fever also impairs the replication of many bacteria and viruses
- Improved ability of certain white blood cells to destroy bacteria and infected cells
- Microbes are directly killed by high temperature (most viruses and bacteria actually grow better at temperature lower than the human body)
- Walling off of iron, which bacteria feed on
- More white blood cells are produced to help fight off the invading bugs
- Increase in antibodies — cells trained to specifically attack the exact type of invader that your body is suffering from
It is rare for a fever to rise higher than 104 or 105 degrees F, and as long as your child does not seem distressed, there is no harm in letting a fever run its course. Keep in mind also that fevers tend to spike in the late afternoon and evening, so a slight increase in fever during this time is not necessarily cause for alarm.
Reasons Why Fever-Lowering Drugs Are Unnecessary, and Even Dangerous
As mentioned earlier, in most cases you should avoid giving your child medications to lower fever, as these medications will typically only suppress the natural healing mechanisms of the fever and prolong the illness.
In fact, the article Fever in Children — A Blessing in Disguise, originally printed in Mothering Magazine and definitely worth reading if you have young children at home, points many researches showing that fever-lowering might actually prolong the illness:
- Another study found that a host of pain relievers, including aspirin and ibuprofen, inhibited white-cell production of antibodies by up to 50 percent.
- In test-tube studies, therapeutic levels of aspirin suppressed the ability of human white blood cells to destroy bacteria.
- In a research carried on children with chicken pox, showed that treating them with acetaminophen increased itching and scabbing-time in comparison to placebo-treatment.
- A study of adults with colds found that aspirin and acetaminophen suppressed production of antibodies and increased cold symptoms, with a trend toward longer infectiousness.
Fever-lowering medicines like aspirin cause Reye’s syndrome in some (it’s recommended that children under 19 under fever should not take aspirin due to its link with Reye’s syndrome), Ibuprofen is linked with stomach upset and acetaminophen is linked with liver damage.
Note, that the purpose of the fever is to provoke the immune system and create an unfriendly environment for invading organisms, basically to increase the temperature of the body, so that microbes couldn’t live in it anymore. So if you are using fever-reducing drugs you are supporting the multiplication of invading pathogens.
Plus, medication could also mask your symptoms and put you back in doing normal activities, too soon, whereas your body needed some more rest.
When is a Fever Dangerous?
In most cases, rest and plenty of fluids is all that’s needed when a fever strikes. Fever does increase fluid loss, so it’s important to give your child plenty of fluids, even if they don’t feel thirsty, to prevent dehydration. There are some instances, however, when a fever does require medical attention.
- Fever in an infant younger than 3 months (at any temperature)
- Fever above 102.2 degrees F in children between 3 months and 36 months, if they appear ill
- Anytime a fever rises over 104.5 degrees F
In children 5 years and under, fever can also lead to a seizure, known as a febrile seizure. Though this can be frightening, it typically will cause no lasting effects. During a febrile seizure, lay your child on his side or stomach on the ground, loosen any tight clothing and support the child to prevent injury. When the seizure stops, you should seek medical attention right away to be sure the seizure was not caused by something other than the fever, such as meningitis or bacteria in the blood.
Finally, remember that letting a fever run its course is typically the best choice to help your child fight off a viral or bacterial infection … but I recommend you to bolster your child’s immune system by using tools like balanced diet, exercise, stress relief and sound sleep, so that pathogens could be killed without needing the aid of fever.
By Syeda Kiran Zahra Hussain
Syeda Kiran Zahra Hussain is a certified Health Coach IIN, U.S, Holistic Nutrition Therapist, SNHS, U.K, Food Investigator, Published Health Expert. She is a graduate of Psychology, Philosophy and English Literature. She was also nominated for “Full-Bright Scholarship Program,” from St. Joseph College for women. She is originally from Pakistan; but she stayed in Oman where she studied ahead to become “the First-Health Coach from the Sultanate.”
She believes: “Food is the best form of preventive medicine.”
For E-Consultation: www.syedakiranz.zest.md
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