Fever In Children

Words: Dr Miranda CASTRO

Fevers are not all bad. In fact, medical research over the past twenty years has consistently shown them to actually help in fighting infections.

Hippocrates, the father of medicine, said, ‘Give me a fever and I can cure the child.’ A weak child may be endlessly ‘sick’, neither very ill nor very well, but with no significant rise in temperature. A more robust child whose temperature soars may look and feel very ill, therefore, giving more cause for concern, but is usually ill for a shorter time and recovers more quickly.

A high temperature generally indicates that the body’s defence mechanism is fighting infection and temperature variations indicate how it is coping. During a fever many of the body’s natural healing processes and all the metabolic functions are speeded up: the heart beats faster, carrying the blood more quickly to all the organs; breathing is quickened, increasing oxygen intake; and sweating increases, while helping the body to cool down naturally. Often, the first symptom that your child is ill is a fever.

Fevers can be a helpful and necessary healing stage of an acute illness — something positive, to be encouraged rather than suppressed. Attempts to control a fever with fever-reducing medications are likely to confuse the body’s natural efforts to heal itself — this can prolong the infection. Many doctors are now suggesting that a moderate fever be left to ‘run its course.’

The Basics 

The average normal temperature in a healthy human being is said to be 98.4°F [37°C], but this can vary quite markedly. Most people, adults and children, can run a fever of up to 104°F [40°C] for several days with no danger. It is normal for healthy infants and children to throw high fevers 103°F [39.5°C] and over with an infection. A temperature of 105°F [40.5°C] is a serious cause for concern, but it is only when it passes above 106°F [41.0°C] that there is a risk to life.

Delirium and tantrums in children sometimes accompany high fevers and, although these are distressing, they are not dangerous. A one-time convulsion that occurs with a fever is not a cause for concern [although they are unpleasant]. It is the [rare] tendency to repeated convulsions with fevers that needs medical attention.

Take the temperature with a thermometer, tucked under the armpit for five minutes, for an accurate reading. It will read about a half-degree Fahrenheit lower than that taken under the tongue. A fever strip [for the forehead] is a rough guide only; a hand held on the forehead is next to useless, because babies that feel hot to the touch can have a normal temperature. The newer digital thermometers are much easier for young children; they give a quick and accurate reading. Always keep a spare battery in the house, though.

Fevers usually peak towards night-time and drop by the following morning, so that if your baby has a temperature of 104°F [40°C] in the evening it may recur on subsequent evenings. A drop in temperature in the morning does not mean that the fever is past its peak. Don’t worry if it rises and falls several times over several days before finally returning to normal.

Be Prepared 

In Europe, where I come from, most working adults are allocated a certain amount of annual sick leave [for themselves, and increasingly for their children]. In the US, the pace is faster, there is no time to have an accident, or get sick. The God of Productivity is breathing down everyone’s neck most of the time. This puts a terrible pressure on parents and their children.

If you are the parent, and especially if you are a working parent, you will need to prepare yourselves for the fact that your children will fall ill from time to time, especially after they start nursery, or school, and will need looking after, either by you, or by someone who cares. It is worthwhile planning ahead for if/when your child is ill, and planning strategies for coping. If you aren’t prepared it is easy to feel harassed and resentful when they do fall ill. The more children you have the more prepared you will need to be as they can fall ill one after the other instead of conveniently all at once.

Look After Yourself 

Looking after a sick child is draining, especially if your child is very ill and/or demanding. Cancel everything that you can; your child’s health comes first. Sleep when your child sleeps, don’t use their nap time to catch up on the ironing. Now is not the time to worry about whether your house is neat and tidy. Ditch the housework and spend your time off doing something enjoyable, or restful, or both. Make sure your own cup has something in it so that you can give to your child and still have some left over for yourself.

If you neglect your own needs at this time it is easier to fall ill once your child is better. Engage the help of neighbours, friends, or family, to look after your child so that you can rest, or get out to recharge your batteries. Make sure you eat well and get some exercise, even if it is running up and down the stairs.

Negotiate with your husband, or partner, so that both of you get some time off, take it in turns to do night duty, or split the night into two so that you can both get a good chunk of sleep. If you are a single parent then ask a friend in, so you can take a break, even if it is for half-hour to get out for a walk. Be creative about nursing your sick child and about helping them with their pain. Tuck your child up in bed with you, if this is OK with you, as many small children will only sleep if their parent is near when they are sick.

Keep notes, a health file, or notebook, in which you jot down the dates of your child’s illnesses and any treatment as well as the effects. List possible stresses also. This will help you to map your child’s patterns of illness and help you to take a more active part in their healthcare. Remind yourself that illness is part of life’s rich tapestry and reassure your child at every stage, however little she is, that this too will pass.

Bring Back Bedrest 

The art of bedrest needs resurrection. Sick children deserve special treatment and reassurance if they are frightened; comforting if they are in pain; distracting from an itchy rash; sponging if they are too hot; or, a time of nurturing and special healing rituals. Many parents love this time when their children are willing and eager to ‘lean into them.’

Encourage bedrest for a sick child. Make up a bed on the sitting room couch in the daytime so that your child doesn’t feel shut off from family life. Keep excitement levels down and encourage quiet activities, such as reading, drawing, playing board games, watching a little television [too much is over-stimulating] and listening to music and stories. Don’t over-stimulate sick children by taking them out, or by having a lot of visitors.

Make sure your child gets lots of extra sleep [with early nights and daytime naps]. Lie down with your child while s/he sleeps if necessary. Some babies, when sick, will only sleep well if their mother is close to them. Use this time to catch up on some sleep, or reading. Let your child sleep with you at night, if s/he wants to, and if you are happy to.

Small children who develop a fever, especially infants under six months old, must be watched carefully because they are vulnerable to becoming quickly dehydrated. Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids, preferably water, herb teas, or diluted fruit juice [not squash, or fizzy drinks, as sugar is a stimulant], either warm or cold as desired. Don’t give acidic drinks [orange, or lemon juice] to a child with mumps as they will hurt sore salivary glands.

Children who are reluctant to drink will often suck on a wet sponge, or flannel, especially if the water is warm, or try an ice-cube, or frozen fruit juice. If you are breastfeeding a sick baby, continue to nurse as often as your baby asks. The breast is especially comforting at a time like this. Finally, remember that not all fevers are from infection — small babies can throw a low fever if they become overheated [either in hot weather, or over-heated house] and will quickly revert to normal with undressing and/or tepid sponging.

Healing With Homeopathy

 A fever is often the first symptom of a cold, flu, sore throat, earache, a childhood illness, or even an episode of teething. Each baby has their own pattern of falling ill and will experience different fever symptoms. One baby will feel hot with a high fever, will kick off the covers; another will be irritable, intolerant of any disturbance and need to be kept warm; one baby will sweat profusely, be thirsty and slightly delirious; another will be dry and hot and refuse liquids. Each of these babies will need a different homeopathic remedy to help them, depending on their emotional state and general symptoms. Prescribe on the whole picture to help your baby fight their infection safely and effectively.

The homeopathic remedies? It’s as easy as ABC and P. They are the first remedies to think of if your baby is feverish.

Aconite napellus. The fever comes on suddenly, often after a chill [especially from a cold wind]. The child is fine on going to bed and then wakes around midnight with a high fever. S/he is hot and sweaty and thirsty, kicks the covers off and then feels cold. The cheeks alternate between being hot and red and pale and ghostly, or one cheek may be hot and red, if it is a teething fever. S/he can also be   restless and distressed; you may suspect that s/he may have a pain somewhere.

Belladonna. Fevers calling for Belladonna come on suddenly. Your baby gets so hot s/he radiates heat. It is a dry heat [without sweating] and can alternate with chills. S/he may become delirious, the pupils are more dilated than usual and s/he may grind her teeth [if she has any].

Chamomilla. Fevers in teething babies, or those that accompany an earache, or sore throat. You will recognise this one easily because your child is very hard to please, s/he wants to be carried constantly, but even that doesn’t help much, s/he cries and shouts a lot and may even hit out. There are red, round patches on one, or both cheeks. The face can be hot, whilst the body is cold. 

Phosphorus. For fevers in babies who do not appear as ill as they should. Their appetite doesn’t change; they play happily in spite of a moderate to high fever. They have a dry, burning fever with a thirst, especially for cold drinks.

Pulsatilla. Fever in teething babies, or those who are coming down with an infection. Gets easily overheated, kicks the covers off and then gets cold. These babies refuse drinks and are much better for fresh air. They want to be cuddled constantly and feel better for it.

Dosage 

Match one of the pictures above with your child’s symptoms. You may need to consult a first-aid book like mine — The Complete Homeopathy Handbook by Dr Miranda Castro — if these descriptions don’t match your child’s collection of symptoms. Or, when in doubt, it is best to consult a professional homeopath.

Having selected a remedy: give according to the urgency of the complaint, i.e., every 15-30 minutes, if in severe pain, less often [every 1-2 hours], if in less pain.

Stop on improvement. This is important; a homeopathic medicine works as a trigger, stimulating the body to heal itself. Repeat the same remedy, if the same symptoms return.

Change the remedy, if you have given about six doses and with no reaction, or if the symptoms change.

You might want to purchase the remedies for those middle-of-the-night times, when the stores are shut. First-aid homeopathic kits are an economical and convenient way to have commonly-needed remedies always at hand. A well-selected homeopathic remedy will give speedy relief, without side-effects.

Dr MIRANDA CASTRO, a homeopath of international repute, who retired from active clinical practice, in 2020, researched classical homeopathy for 40 years. A Fellow of the Society of Homeopaths [UK] and past president of the North American Society of Homeopaths [NASH], she was a much-sought-after speaker, teaching on both sides of the Atlantic for over 30 years+. A prolific writer, Dr Castro has written numerous books and papers for the professional homeopath, besides hundreds of articles for the homeopathic home prescriber. She lives in Gainesville, Florida, US.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  +  thirty four  =  thirty nine

This site uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. By browsing this website, you agree to our use of cookies.