Of course, I am not a medical expert by any stretch of the imagination, and I am simply sharing my recent experience and what I am learning about the subject of fevers and sickness. I think it’s helpful to hear from other moms to know if I am being paranoid about my child’s illness or if this is serious enough for my child to see a doctor. I will always be ever-learning. Please don’t take any of this advice without speaking with your family care practitioner.
Nothing is worse than seeing your child in pain. My baby boy had a fever a couple of weeks ago and I was helpless. He acted fussy one day, but napped very well. I took his temperature in the evening and was surprised to see that he had a fever of 101.3. I put him down for bedtime, and he slept 13 hours that night. He whined at 2am and 5am. Both times, I was very happy to nurse him: he’s still alive!, I can nurse him! He woke with a very wet (leaky!) diaper, so I knew he wasn’t dehydrated. His head was still very hot and still had a fever of about 101.7. He also had a slight red-dot rash on his trunk, which also greatly concerned me. (Visual rash guide at BabyCenter was helpful.)
I have wanted to be so prepared in what to do for him when the time came for sickness to grab hold of him. I have been reading like crazy about Tylenol and Motrin and how they suppress the body’s natural defenses. That fever is a good thing because the body is fighting something all by itself. And when we suppress that, it makes the sickness last longer. Also, Tylenol, in particular, has devastating side effects to the liver, and especially, before or after vaccinations it can, perhaps, explain the “autism is caused by vaccines” camp. I chose not to give him either drug and feel confident about my decision. Rest and fluids, rest and fluids. These helped me through this very hard time:
Fevers in Children by Miranda Castro
Don’t Fear the Fever; Fear the Fever Reducer by Guggie Daly
Castro writes about rest and fluids, as well as homeopathy. Apparently, the body fights infection with a fever. So the body knows what to do. Hmm, interesting, never heard that before. (It seems that all common sense and understanding goes out the window when your baby is sick.) Daly talks about how acetaminophen depletes the body’s glutathione, which is key to helping the body take care of toxins. And if taken too often, the liver begins to shut down. And all those news reports about liver damage and failure is enough to make any mother nervous. Very informative read.
The next afternoon, my son’s fever reached 103.2 and his spots looked worse. I called the doctor at 4pm (close of business) — a little panicky because this seemed very high. I think my mindset was that this fever is going to keep rising and rising up to oblivion… They said to bring him right in. My doctor was so great. He checked him out, head to toe, and determined (what I already knew), that it was a “virus” and he would pull through. He also said that a fever below 104.5 is safe. He said that it was my call as to if I needed to give the fever reducer and since he was still responsive, able to calm down, even smiled — that his mood determined whether or not the drugs were needed. Our son was never lethargic, though he had taken about 5 hour-long naps that day, he was still smiley and responsive. I am very thankful for such an amazing doctor. He has been so awesome, and especially accepting (and never pushy) about our decision not to vaccinate our son.
After waking up, again, twice in the night, the next morning, my son’s fever was at 102. It came down naturally. I knew he was still not out of the ringer, but continued to nurse him and nap him nonstop. And I know as long as he was not lethargic and had wet diapers, his little immune system would pull him through.
The next day, it stayed around 99.6, and he was not very interested in eating solids at all. Throughout, he did not wanted any solids (but to play with a slimy banana), so I gave him small nursings all day. He also had poor naps. That night, it was rough, to say the least, and woke up about 10 times or so, but the next day, he was still at about 99.6, so his body fought the infection like a champ. Also, his rash came back, with a vengeance. This makes me think that he had Roseola, because with this infection, the body has a high fever and once the fever subsides, a full-body rash appears. It didn’t bother him, just looked horrible. Another couple days of lots of sleep and waking to nurse, and he is better than new. He is stronger.
I am proud of him. But I am proud of myself, too. Interestingly enough, a week after his illness, there was a Fever Seminar at a local Natural Baby Support Center in my area. I learned that I followed my “mama gut” and that I actually did the right things! Here is a breakdown of what I learned there:
- Rest and plenty of liquids is the key to combating sickness.
- Febrile seizures happen with a very sudden spike in temperature, so, very often, fever reducing drugs would not work in time to prevent these anyways. If you see this happening in your child (eyes twitching, seizing, redness, etc.), immediately cool them with cold water, ice, take off clothing, etc. I also learned that this type of seizure is the body protecting itself, and they can happen with no long-term damage to your precious child.
- Helpful supplements during illness (pills or glycerin tinctures) include: Vitamin C, Rose hips, and Echinacea; breastfeeding moms can take this so it will secrete into your breastmilk.
- Teas are your friend and can be given to children warm, cool, or made into a popsicle!: Elderflower (fever reducer), Chamomile (promotes sleep), Ginger (for fever when child feels cold), Red raspberry leaf and nettle (hydration and circulation), Rose hips (anti-inflammatory).
- Garlic is amazing. Breastfeeding moms: cut raw, mix with butter on toast or swallow capsules; grind in food processor for children.
- Lemon is, also, amazing. You can make lemon leg wraps with scraps of cotton, dunk in water, squeeze lemon juice and oils from one lemon, wring out so not soaked, wrap around calves, put wool socks on over them, crawl into bed, or snuggle close to someone you love.
- I’m going to add my own: making bone broths is helpful for hydration and provides a lot of vitamins and minerals your body needs to combat the illness.
- Homeopathy is your friend (can’t possibly sum up all that I am learning about this subject, but will someday!)
I plan on purchasing Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child by Janet Zand, ND, LAC, Robert Rountree, MD, and Rachel Walton, MSN, CRNP. Also, check out these two articles from Mothering Magazine: Your Child’s First Healer by Peggy O’Mara, Healing Crisis: Don’t Worry Mom, I’m Just Growing by Melissa L. Block and Philip Incao, MD, and The Importance of Fever by Dr. Sherri Tenpenny.