No, not that kind of 'fever'.
"According to the AAP, a fever can help your body fight off infection. Many illness-causing microbes do best at the body's normal temperature.
A fever raises the temperature beyond which certain microbes need to reproduce. A fever also kicks your child's immune system into high gear, spurring the rapid production of bug-clobbering white blood cells.
A small but growing body of research shows that letting a fever run its course may reduce the length and severity of such illnesses as colds and flu.
As for the concern among parents that fevers can have harmful effects, these instances are very rare. The brain has an internal regulatory mechanism that prevents fevers caused by infections from getting higher than 105 or 106 degrees.
Body temperature must get above 108 degrees to cause damage. Temperatures this high are caused only by exceptional circumstances, such as central nervous system disorders or heatstroke.
Fever – Perhaps the Most Overtreated Symptom of All
"A great number of people have completely misunderstood fever, and believe that fever can be dangerous in and of itself – especially when the fever occurs in a child.
It's important to realize that fever is your body's backup defense mechanism when your primary ones – mainly your immune system -- fail. Your first line of defense is your macrophages, which gobble up any invading microbes.
As long as your immune system is strong, you may not even realize you've been exposed to a troublesome bug.
If you are still under the impression that having a fever or 100 or 101 degrees Fahrenheit is an indication of a dangerous situation, relax! It's not!
Many infectious agents do not survive in elevated temperatures so your body increases the temperature in an effort to eradicate the infection. It is a healthy response.
Unfortunately, most parents end up giving their child potentially toxic doses of fever-reducing medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen when, in reality, their child's temperature is ideal for accomplishing healing. Worse yet, there are parents who administer aspirin at the first sign of fever, which actually poses a far greater health risk than any fever could, as aspirin may cause Reye's Disease, which can be lethal.
Mixing aspirin and ibuprofen can also be deadly under certain circumstances.
The Many Benefits of Letting Fever Run its Course
In order to put your worries to rest, it's important to understand the functions a fever serves, and why a rise in temperature is beneficial. Naturopathic physician Colleen Huber has done a marvelous job of explaining this in a previous article on my site, which I've summarized here.
First, the two functions of fever are:
- To stimulate your immune system.
- To create an inhospitable environment for invading organisms. That is, to turn up the heat high enough that the invading microbes cannot live.
It would be far more helpful to think of a fever as a healing response rather than a symptom of disease. And, raising your body's temperature to between 102 to 103 degrees F is actually the ideal range of a fever because this is the temperature range in which microbes will be killed.
In addition to directly killing the microbes through heat, fever has a number of other benefits, including:
- Creating more antibodies -- cells trained to specifically attack the exact type of invader that your body is presently suffering from -- produced more specific to that bug than any pharmaceutical.
- Producing more white blood cells to fight off the invading microbes.
- Producing more interferon (which blocks spread of viruses to healthy cells).
- Walling off of iron, which bacteria feed on.
The Best Way to Treat a Fever
Contrary to popular belief, the best course of action is usually little or no action when it comes to fever.
Rather than working against it; trying to lower your temperature, you should work with it and allow it to run its course. The only time you need to worry or seek medical attention is if it rises very high, very fast. This could be a sign of an infection too serious for your body to handle.
To support your fever, naturopathic physicians recommend either fasting or eating foods such as broths and water because fever slows down peristalsis. Once your fever has broken, you can start eating solid foods again.
Fever is also best supported with plenty of good-old-fashioned rest.
When is Medical Attention Warranted for a Fever?
- Infants less than 1-month-old -- Seek care right away for fever greater than 100.4 degrees F in this age group. While waiting for care, breastfeed as often as the baby desires as your breast milk will also create antibodies against pathogens in your baby's mouth.
- Infants from 1-month to 3-months-old, with a temperature greater than 100.4 degrees F, if they appear ill. Again, breastfeed on demand while waiting for care.
- Children between 3 months and 36 months, with a temperature above 102.2 degrees F, if they appear ill.
- All age groups -- temperature over 104.5 degrees F.
Remember that fevers themselves are helping the body get rid of the illness, so fevers are not dangerous for most children and infants over the age of 3 months.
"Just what is a fever and what does it do?
Fever is not an illness. It is an elevation in body temperature, usually in response to a viral or bacterial infection. When an illness is detected, a part of the brain called the hypothalamus increases the body's metabolism while decreasing its ability to disperse heat.
The makers of such drugs as Tylenol (acetaminophen) and Motrin (ibuprofen) certainly want you believe that fever is something to be suppressed. However, because fever helps the body combat viruses and bacteria by retarding their growth and by stimulating an immunological response, reaching for a drug to bring down a child's fever may delay recovery. A growing body of research shows that letting a fever run its course may reduce the length and severity of such illnesses as colds, flu and other viral syndromes. In studies of children with routine infection, those who were treated with antipyretics (fever reducers) stayed sick longer. "
Because we got all out of synch, with the holiday, I had to go shopping in the next town today. There were several things that I didn't get last Wednesday, due to the crowds.
I found most of the things on my list, and when I got home my son, Kevin, unexpectedly came to visit.
Then, another surprise. Pamala and Nigel, (my sister-in-law and brother in England) Skyped me, so Kevin and I talked to them for a long time. They had missed seeing Kevin when they were here in the US this summer.
So this was a real family day.