I Like Math Just About As Much As The Next Mom
Counting baby toes, pennies and the number of times Micah says “sooopooon” (spoon) in a day – all good stuff! But when it comes to my kids health math rarely factors in. Why? I watch them, not the numbers. This is especially true with fevers.
I’m not alone, either. According to Dr. Hannah Chow-Johnson – pediatrician at Loyola University Health System and assistant professor of pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine – numbers may not be as significant as we tend to think.
My most frequent calls are from worried parents who want to know how high is too high of a fever. What many parents don’t realize is that often, fevers are their child’s friend.
. . . . Fevers can actually help your child recover more quickly, especially if he or she is battling a viral illness . . . I often wish thermometers had a gauge that read either ‘fever’ or ‘no fever.’ That would definitely help parents who worry if their child has a fever that’s too high.”
Here’s a video from another pediatrician, Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, which explains more:*
“Seattle Mama Doc” On Fever Phobia
Can I just say that I LOVE these woman?? Personally I’d avoid the use of fever reducers if possible – here is one of the many reasons why – but I am still **this** close to sending them a dozen orchids. Regarding when fevers may need the attention of a pediatrician, here’s what Dr. Swanson has to say:
The main take home is not to treat fever per se, but your child. There is no reason to make a fever disappear if your child is otherwise acting well, playful, and staying hydrated. But do know there are some fevers that do require a visit with the pediatricians. It’s important to seek care when fever persists after 3 days in infants and children, any fever in a baby 3 month old or less, and if fever is over 104 degrees.”
And here’s what else Dr. Chow-Johnson has to say:
- “Fevers are safe. A fever is the body’s way of controlling its immune response. Your child’s body is controlling the temperature and it’s going to fluctuate no matter what you do. Don’t awaken a child from a deep sleep to give medications for the fever. Sleep is more important.
- Take oral temperatures when possible and rectal ones when not. Ear, sticker, pacifier and temporal artery thermometers are not reliable. Stick to a good, old-fashioned digital thermometer for the best accuracy. As far as how frequently a fever needs to be checked, once a day is sufficient.
- There is not a maximum number on the thermometer that means go to the emergency room, unless your child stops drinking, urinating or responding well. But if children are doing all three, parents can monitor them from home.
- Your goal should be your child’s comfort, not reducing the fever. Be generous with fluids, ice chips and popsicles. Dress children in light clothing and give tepid baths to help cool them down. Don’t use rubbing alcohol as this can be absorbed into the skin. Give fever reducers only if your child feels uncomfortable, not solely to reduce the temperature. And don’t alternate fever-reducing medications, as this could lead to overdosing or excessive medication that your child doesn’t need.
There are times you should seek medical attention when your child has a fever such as:
- A child who is less than 8 weeks old and has a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher should be seen by a physician immediately
- A child who is undergoing chemotherapy or has a compromised immune system
- If there is no clear source for the child’s fever (no cough, runny nose or known pain) and the fever has lasted for 2-3 days
- If a fever lasts for more than 5 days, see a physician, even if your child looks well.”
Loyola Medicine: That Fever Might Be Your Child’s Friend (emphasis mine)
Ahhh, I’m swooning! And the best part is she’s not alone: Dr. Natasha Burgert says pretty much the exact same thing.
How To Treat A Fever Naturally
Okay, so fevers aren’t scary and we should watch the child instead of the thermometer – what happens though when we feel it’s time to try to bring the fever down? I decided to do some research just in case I need it later on. Here’s what I found:
#1 – Calcium Lactate
Calcium lactate can be especially helpful in making a sick child/adult more comfortable. When the body fights infection it draws calcium out of the bones to be utilized by white blood cells. The process can make you feel quite achy, so it’s easier just to give the body what it needs without it having to withdraw from “the bank.” Calcium lactate works with the fever to make it more effective, which in turn usually means it’s over more quickly, yay!
#2 – Apple Cider Vinegar
This is an old remedy used by grandmothers and great-grandmothers that is thought to “draw out” the fever – people still swear by it! Soak a couple washcloths in apple cider vinegar and place on forehead and tummy, or add a cup to a warm bath. Some people also soak a cloth in and wrap it around the soles of the patient’s feet – my friend Emily at Holistic Squid says lemons work, too.
#3 – Egg Whites
Soak a pair of socks in egg whites obtained from healthy, pastured chickens and put them on the patient. For a less messy version, soak paper towels in egg whites and place them on the bottom of the feet, then cover with socks. Replace the socks/paper towels when they dry out. Most people report that they see results from this method very quickly – anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour. If egg whites cannot be used due to food sensitivities onions or shredded potato can be used.
#4 – Garlic Foot Paste
Blend a enough fresh garlic cloves to make a 1/4 inch paste that will spread across the feet. Blend with a little olive or coconut oil and apply. Leave a few spots uncovered so heat can still escape, then wrap in gauze and leave on overnight.
#5 – Warm Bath
A cold bath can shock the body into trying to raise the internal thermostat even more, but a warm to extra warm (depending on comfort level) can be helpful, especially when a cup of apple cider vinegar is mixed in.
So, There You Go!
I’m not against scales, statistics, thermometers and all those other things mama’s are supposed to be fond of. I totally use scales to make soap, statistics to analyze the likelihood that Daddypotamus will make up for the fact that he will be traveling on our anniversary (sources say YES!). And thermometers . . . oh how I love them to make marshmallows! And sometimes I use them on my kids, too.
If by chance that thermometer starts setting off alarm bells for me, you can bet my house will be stinking like a garlic omelette with vinegar on the side!
Have you ever used a natural remedy to reduce a fever? How did it work for you?
*In the original publication of this post I attributed Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson’s video statements to Dr. Chow-Johnson. I stand corrected
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