Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mama, I Am Sick

Just an hour past midnight of Friday, I heard my 4-year old son crying and looking for me.  I thought he just had a bad dream, and so I just tried putting him back to sleep. While caressing him, I noticed that his forehead was a bit hot, and then when I touched his body, it was warm too.  I already hoped and prayed that he will not get sick.  But lo and behold, when we woke up Saturday morning, he was still hot and not in his usual active self.  Reality sank in that he was indeed sick when I checked his temperature in the thermometer.   And he told me, “Mama, sick si Gio” (“Gio is sick”).  I really cannot pin point what exactly may have caused his fever because there were no other symptoms except fever, but I hoped and prayed that it was just viral.

Nowadays, whenever my children get fever, the over-the-counter paracetamol is no longer the immediate solution for me.  If the fever is mild to moderate, I just let the fever run its course but I make sure to closely monitor my sick child for occurrence (or worsening) of other symptoms, if any, as well as checking the temperature of the fever (if it will go up very high) and the duration (if it will last for more than 3 days as it may not be a basic fever and a symptom for a more serious condition).  I learned, through personal research and from my children’s Natural Med Pediatrician, that it’s best to “support” the fever rather than going immediately to the medicine cabinet for a fever-reducing paracetamol (or acetaminophen) and administering it to the sick child.

Many parents are so afraid of their child’s fever.  As a parent, myself, who isn’t?  Especially when you see your child very restless and have no appetite for food.  But how do we deal with it is another question.  According to the Pediatricians I consulted, a child’s body temperature of anything between 36.5oC to 37.5oC is considered normal, and a temperature of 37.8oC and above is already considered fever.  I learned, though, that supporting a basic fever is, in fact, an effective form of treatment the natural way.   Fever is not a disease but rather a symptom that may indicate the presence of a disease.  A basic fever, one due to mild bacterial or viral illness, can be an expression of the immune system working at its best.  Fever stimulates the immune system.  It increases the body temperature high enough that the attacking “bugs” cannot live.  It’s actually a blessing in disguise!  Fever increases the amount of interferon (a natural antiviral and anticancer substance) in the blood.  A mild to moderate fever also increases the white blood cells that kill cells infected with viruses, fungi and cancer, and improves the ability of certain white blood cells to destroy bacteria and infected cells.  Therefore, if we suppress the fever with drugs like paracetamol or acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or worse, aspirin, we are also suppressing the body’s natural defense system to fight and kill the bacteria and viruses in the body.  Even though fever-reducing medicines can help relieve your child from discomfort, these over-the-counter drugs can have undesirable side effects like the risk of liver damage and cause stomach upset. So if you’re used to giving these kinds of drugs to your child, make sure that you give them sparingly when your child is in pain or suffers discomfort from a fever over 38.5oC (or 38.8oC in another reference I read).  I read in a natural health book, on the other hand, that running a temperature of less than 102oF or 40oC is still tolerable and helpful to the body.  On the other hand, a very high fever of 104oF (42oC) or higher may pose a risk for people with cardiac problems since it makes the heart beat faster and work harder, and can cause irregular heart rhythms, chest pain or heart attack.  Fever over 106oF (44oC) especially for prolonged periods, though, can cause dehydration and brain injury.

See a medical or health care professional immediately if you or your child develops a fever associated with any of the following:

  • Stiff neck, swelling of the throat or disorientation, as these may indicate meningitis
  • Frequent urination, a burning sensation while urinating, or blood in the urine
  • Pain concentrated in one area of the abdomen
  • Shaking chills or alternating chills and sweats
  • Severe headache and vomiting
  • Profuse watery diarrhea lasting more than 24 hours
  • Swollen glands or rashes

Also, for infants from less than 1-month-old to 3-months-old, with a temperature greater than 100.4oF (or 38.5oC and above) and for children between 3 months and 36 months, with a temperature greater than 102.2oF (or 40.2oC and above), and anyone else with a temperature over 104.5oF (or 42.5oC and above), seek medical help right away.

To manage our children’s basic fever at home, here are some recommendations I learned to do with my own children:

  • Give your child lots to drink.  Fever increases fluid loss so replace fluid loss by offering lots of quality water to your child.  This will also help to bring down body temperature.  Kids with fever often do not feel thirsty, or by the time they do, they’re already dehydrated, so keep offering fluids.
  • Give your child plenty of rest.  Exercise and activity both distract body energy from the vitally important immune system processes.
  • Sponge bath by wiping the head, arms and legs (and avoiding the chest and back areas) with face towel or sponge soaked in tap water (or cold water if the fever is quite high).  Do not use rubbing alcohol to cool off as it gives off unpleasant fumes.  Use lemon or calamansi instead.
  • Dress him/her lightly or bundle, as needed.  If your child looks pale, shivers, or complains of feeling chilled (things that tend to happen in the early stages of fever), cover with blanket or bundle him/her in breathable fabrics so that sweat will evaporate, but make sure he/she can easily remove them.  If he/she is comfortable and his/her fever is low, dress him/her snuggly and give warm liquids to assist the body's fever production.  If he/she sweats and complains of heat, dress him/her lightly and let him/her throw off the covers.
  • Don’t push food.  People with fevers generally don't have much appetite. Let your child determine when and what he/she eats.  It is best to give warm broth or soup, though.  I learned, on the other hand, that consumption of sugary foods could delay the natural immune response so refrain from giving them.

As natural remedy for an onset of fever, I give Ferrum Phosphoricum, a homeopathic remedy made from iron and phosphorus, as prescribed by my children’s Pediatrician.  And to boost their immune system,  mixed in water with honey, I give  my children bee propolis extract, which (I also take and) is a natural probiotic, immune system booster and nature’s powerful antioxidant.

After doing all the things I mentioned above, thank God, my son’s fever only lasted for one day.  And even though the day after my son got well, my daughter also got a fever (yeah, viruses can really be that contagious!), she too got well just after a day.  Praise God!

Phyllis A. Balch, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Avery Publishing, 2006.
Dr. Mercola, "Fever: Ally or Enemy?", 2005. 

1 comment:

  1. Ugh!! Our family has literally been sick with either head colds, sinus infections, flu bugs, or some other viral illness non-stop for three months. We just keep passing it all around to each other. Yes, fevers are good. I've gotten to the point of holding off on medicating until I think my child really needs the Motrin. Otherwise, I just let the fever run its course and kill the infection.

    Great post!



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