When my oldest was one and I was quite pregnant with #2, he got the flu. He had a high temperature, was lethargic, etc. Thats when I first learned the truth about fevers.... Id always thought of fever as the disease and believed that you should take tylenol or advil to bring it down. It turns out I was wrong, on both accounts. I consider this information some of the most valuable Ive learned as a mother - and fascinating!
Fever is a natural response TO an infection and in fact a very good sign that the immune system is working properly.
My son was very ill again, soon after that first bought with the flu. The first time I gave him tylenol and/or advil consistently. His fever would break, he'd feel better for a few hours, run around and play, then konk back out and his fever would return. The second time I let the fever run its course (both times it was very high, over 102). He slept more and got better faster the second time. (I believe he had the flu twice) By breaking the fever over and over I was not only taking away a natural defense but then he was expending energy that he was actually too sick to expend.
An article from PBS.com reports on an experiment done with iguanas. The iguanas were purposely made sick with bacteria. They found that raising their body temperature with heat lamps helped them fight off the illness. The iguanas were given the choice to heat up their bodies - 12 of the 13 chose to lay under the lamp. The iguana that didnt, died.
Brain Damage: If a fever goes over 106, the fever doesnt respond to tylenol/advil or the child is unable to be hydrated, these are serious situations and you should call your Dr. BUT. Not treating a fever will not cause to rise indefinitely and put your child at risk for brain damage. Dr Greene reports (as do other sources) that brain damage can only occur from having a fever of 107+ for an extended period of time. Only VERY rare and very serious illnesses can cause a fever that high as well as sun stroke and poisoning.
Febrile Seizures are seizures caused by a quick rise in temperature, not necessarily a high fever. So a quick rise from 99 to 101 can bring it on just as a rise from 101 to 103. Febrile seizures affect 5-10% of children. They are scaryto see as parents but NOT harmful and they do not cause long-lasting effects.
Conclusion: We dont need to fear fevers. My automatic, ingrained reponse when my children get a fever is still to panic. But then I remind myself to rejoice - their immune systems are working well!!!!! The most important thing when your child is sick is to keep them HYDRATED. Its best to avoid sugary drinks because it lowers their immune system but sometimes they get so sick that any liquid is good. The worst thing is to end up in the hospital for an IV and be at risk of catching something new.
Leave the fever alone and let it do its job. The only reason you need to use a fever-reducing medication is if your child is too achy/miserable to sleep or eat/drink. This is for their comfort and not to get rid of the fever. The fever is on your side! :)
Ill close with a list of signs to watch for. Many of these are signs of dehydration or a more serious illness (stiff neck indicates meningitis).
Call your doctor if your child has any of these warning signs
Changes in behavior
Constant vomiting or diarrhea
Earache or pulling at ears
Fever comes and goes over several days
Sore or swollen joints
Swelling of the soft spot on the head
Unresponsive or limp
Wheezing or problems breathing
Why do you think we all have it ingrained in us that fevers need medicine - thats right, its all about the $$ M-O-N-E-Y $$. Booooo and hisssss for the drug companies and another example of over-medicating America to make billions of dollars.
I hope this is encouraging. Its one less thing for us to worry about! There is a lot of illness going around at this time of year. We need to be alert and pay close attention to our children when they are sick but we dont have to depend on sugar/chemical/dye-filled meds. My second son woke up from his nap with a fever. I gave him a lot to drink (water with Vit C and orange Stevia) and had him rest and he was running around and playing by bedtime. Hopefully thats the end of it! I praise the Lord that we are so fearfully and wonderfully made - He has given us the gift of bodies that are self-healing! Amazing!