Fevers-What Every Parent Needs to Know and How to Manage One Naturally
As a parent, you know this feeling.
You’re jarred awake in the middle of the night from your child’s shrieking cry, “Mama, Mama!”
You hold your little one close and kiss her forehead…red HOT.
You feel a jolt of fear, dread, guilt, and anticipation…it’s a fever, and it feels like a high one.
What’s your next move?
If you’re like most parents, you’ll go straight to the medicine cabinet for some acetaminophen or ibuprofen. After all, a fever is dangerous…isn’t it?
What if I told you that at least 9 times out of 10, instead of fighting a fever our goal as parents should be to help a fever run its course?
Today’s post, ‘What Every Parent Needs to Know About Fever…and How to Manage One Naturally’, will empower you with knowledge and natural solutions regarding fevers. It will also help quell your ‘fever-fear-factor’ so you can help your child work with their body, instead of against it.
- What does a fever mean? A fever means the body’s immune system is working
A fever is the body’s response to bacteria, viruses, parasites, or fungi. It is the immune system’s way of making the environment inhospitable to infection.
Common cold and flu viruses are the main cause of fevers (up to 105° F) in children of all ages.
When left alone, fevers can actually reduce the length of illness by up to 3 days, encourage mucus production to drain out pathogens, AND impede the spread of bacteria and viruses.
- A low-grade fever doesn’t always mean illness
We are told that anything above 98.6° F is considered a fever. However, children’s normal body temperature can vary from 96.6° F to 99.4° F.
Temperature can also be elevated after consumption of a large meal, exercise, taking an antihistamine, a chiropractic adjustment, and pubertal teenage girls tend to run a bit hotter.
The takeaway? Make a note of your child’s normal, resting body temperature so you know when a fever is really a fever.
- Your perception of a “high fever” may not be a high fever at all
Research tells us that over half of parents believe anything over 100° F to 102° F is a “high” fever, and nearly all parents panic at anything over 103° F.
According to Mayo Clinic, a high fever is 103° F and up. However, a common cold or flu can produce a fever up to 105° F degrees without serious complications, and it is not unusual for a sick baby (over 6 months) to run a fever of 104 – 105 degrees. Therefore, it’s best to observe all your child’s symptoms before artificially lowering his fever.
Plus, the type of thermometer you use makes a HUGE difference. Under the tongue, arm, or rectally are the most accurate.
- A high fever doesn’t necessarily indicate a severe illness
According to Dr. Robert S. Mendelsohn, author of How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor (a must-have for every health-conscious parent),
“There is no consistent relationship between the height of a child’s temperature and the severity of a disease.”
Phew, that’s a relief in and of itself!
And it makes sense when we understand a fever is the body’s way to burn up an illness. The hotter the fire, the more efficient the furnace.
Again, observe all your child’s symptoms before assuming the worst.
- Convulsions due to fever, though very scary, are usually benign and do not equal brain damage
I take this one extremely seriously because my daughter used to have severe seizures starting after one years of age. There are a lot of scary moments in parenthood, but this one ranks high on the list for me watching and holding my child convulse uncontrollably from a seizure. If any of you have ever experienced your little one going limp and convulsing you KNOW how frightening a febrile seizure is.
Though it’s hard to watch, take comfort and consider these facts before leaping for fever-lowering drugs.
- Febrile seizures only occur in 2-5% of children between the ages of 6 months and 2 years old
- They are nearly always benign, and do not require medical treatment (however, please call your primary care physician if this occurs)
- Most children grow out them between the ages of 4 and 5
- Heredity often plays a role, so it can help to talk to relatives so you can be prepared if there is a family history
- There is rarely a connection between febrile seizures and epilepsy
- Studies have found that serious bacterial infection only occurs in a very small percentage of children with high fevers
We’ve been misinformed and scared into believing that meningitis is something to fear every time a child gets a high fever.
This simply is NOT true. Statistics show meningitis occurs in just 1.6-3% of children when fevers are over 102° F.
Though serious bacterial infections require immediate medical treatment, unless your child experiences other alarming symptoms or your instincts tell you something is very wrong, they are likely not in the 1.6-3%.
- It’s rare for a child’s temperature to exceed 107 degrees
A Baltimore Maryland study found that 7% of parents believed that a fever would rise to dangerous levels if left untreated, and 21% believed brain damage could occur with a fever of 102° F.
Fortunately, this is not the case, and a fever over 107° F is exceedingly rare.
If a child’s fever does creep up around 107 degrees, contact your primary care physician immediately.
When to worry…
- Fevers in newborns and infants are very serious and require immediate medical attention.
- For non-infant babies and children, Dr. Mendelsohn advises parents to seek medical attention immediately for symptoms of extreme listlessness, abnormal behavior, respiratory difficulty, sensitivity to light, extreme headache, violent vomiting, or for fevers over 106 ° F.
As I’ve stressed throughout this post, your intuition as a parent is your most important gauge. If you feel something is just not right, do not hesitate to contact your primary care physician right away.
A Holistic Doctor Mama’s Natural Fever-Friendly Solutions that Really Work
There are scads of natural solutions and folk remedies for managing a rising fever without impeding the body’s healing process. The following are my personal and professional favorites based on my training and success stories.
Sponging with tepid water, and then combining coconut oil (any carrier oil will do) mixed with any of the following therapeutic grade fever-friendly essential oils:
Homeopathic Remedies for Fever:
- Energetix Relief-Tone
- Energetix Inflamma-Tone
- Energetix Drainage-Tone
I like to also have a menagerie of ‘crunchy kid natural remedies’ in my mama wellness kit. To name a few that I haven’t mentioned before, I keep elderberry syrup (homemade and if you want to learn how to make your own be sure to watch here) castor oil and wool flannel.
It has been said the power that made the body can heal the body. I believe this applies to our body’s natural defenses and our inherent intuition as parents. By educating yourself about alternative healing practices and stepping outside “the herd” with regards to fear and parenting, you are building a reservoir of precious knowledge and experience that will validate and strengthen your natural intuition.
What inspiration and experience with regards to fevers can you share with our readers? How do you help a fever? Or how have you overcome your fever fears?
Are there any other “burning” questions I can answer?
Share in the comments below!
To learn more about taking action to improves your family’s health download my FREE guide 12 Simple Steps to BIOHACK Your Family’s Health Here.
Wishing you well,
– Dr. Jessica
Hi! I'm Dr. Jessica
I’m Dr. Jessica Payne, Medical Intuitive, Doctor of Natural Medicine, and your go-to guide for living your life naturally…More
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Hi Dr. Jessica,
Thank you for this informative article. I feel so nervous when my boys get a fever because they also get febrile seizures. (Complex atypical febrile seizures) It really does not matter how high the fever gets, but how quickly it spikes up from .1 to .2. We are able to prevent seizures with ibuprofen if we catch it early enough.
How did you manage febrile seizures? Are there other ways to manage or prevent a fever from spiking up? We normally hydrate, stop solids, juice, smoothies and healing broths.
I’m always afraid of not giving them medicine because they will go into a seizure.
I completely understand and it can be so challenging to know what to do! First and foremost always follow your gut and mama’s intuition. Being said, one of my favorite techniques is using a therapeutic-grade peppermint essential oil with a carrier oil on the feet and/or spine the moment the signs of a fever start to present. I also like using herbal teas and homeopathic remedies to calm the nervous system.