Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Oh No, Fever!

The very word conjures up an image in most people's minds; an image rather like Voldemort from Harry Potter (I did warn you) i.e. "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named". Fevers are often perceived to be harmful when in fact they are the body's way of dealing with bacteria/viruses and actually do more good than harm. The presence of a fever may indicate a more serious, underlying disease (such as pneumonia) but in of itself, it is really nothing to worry about. R & Z have run temperatures of 103 and have been jumping up and down on the bed - I called my ped. in a frenzy the first time this happened and he laughed it off stating that as long as they were in good spirits, I had nothing to worry about! This does not apply to newborns and infants under 3 months who should be taken to a doctor immediately if they have a fever over 100.4 as this can signal a serious infection.

Why do we get fevers? The answer's quite simple actually. The hypothalamus in the centre of our brain is responsible for regulating our body's temperature and on realizing that it has been invaded by green aliens, it cranks up the heating to make them go back to Planet Virus forever.  Honest!

It is also said that white blood cells (responsible for fighting infection) work better in higher temperatures so by letting the body do its job, you're actually warding off the infection quicker and more efficiently.

So now that we've established that fevers are not the end of the world, let's concentrate on what you can do to make your child comfortable:

~ Lots of liquids: what you want to avoid in a fever is letting a child become dehydrated as fevers tend to increase evaporation of water from the body. Let them sip on watered down juice or water flavoured with a little lemon.
~ Warm water compresses: note that I say warm, not cold. You're just trying to make your child comfortable. Cold compresses can cause a sudden drop in body temperature which is not good for the body and can induce shivering. You can add some lavender oil or Rescue Remedy to the warm water to help relax.
~ Loose, light clothing: try not to overdress your child when they have fever as overheating can lead to an artificially raised temperature.
~ Dose with the appropriate immunity boosters: again, the aim is not to reduce the fever but attack whatever is causing it. Whether the cause is flu or a stomach bug, you'll get good results if you start immediately. 
~Relax! Teach your child that having a fever is nothing to be afraid of and give them extra reassurance while they're sick so they can overcome it easily and quickly. You can help them relax by using Reiki or Essential Oils or even Rescue Remedy. Remember the point about cues!

Don't be concerned if your child sleeps excessively during a fever. It's normal for the body to be tired when it's working overtime to combat an infection and the extra rest will help. A feverish child will also not likely want to eat much and that's fine too. Ever heard the phrase "Feed a cold, starve a fever"?! While you don't need to starve it, you also don't need to force feed it :-) Ensuring adequate liquid is far more important and trust me from experience, any lost weight will come back!! 

As always, use your judgement and assess the situation practically. You know your child best and if something doesn't feel right, please consult a pediatrician. In most average cases however, you'll be surprised to see that the body can actually deal with a lot more than we give it credit for, especially if you equip it with the right ingredients.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away (primarily 'coz it contains Vitamin C!)


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