Fevers are an ongoing topic of discussion amongst mothers. There’s a well-acknowledged level of fear amongst both parents AND medical professionals, that if the sweet stuff isn’t administered, Something Bad Might Happen.
The most common fear is febrile seizures, but NICE guidelines state they DO NOT PREVENT febrile seizures:
So what we basically have is a myth that paracetamol or ibuprofen (or both alternating) is needed for fevers. The Cochrane review research tells us that, not only are these not needed, but that alternating these medications needs further research!!!
Please see excerpts below from the following study:
Fever per se is self-limiting and rarely serious provided that the cause is known and fluid loss is replaced. With fever, unlike hyperthermia, body temperature is well regulated by a hypothalamic set-point that balances heat production and heat loss so effectively that the temperature does not climb up relentlessly and does not exceed an upper limit of 42 °C. Within this upper range, 40 °C to 42 °C, there is no evidence that the fever is injurious to tissue. About 20 percent of children seen in the emergency room have temperatures over 40 °C but they usually have a full recovery. If there is morbidity or mortality, it is due to the underlying disease. The associated fever may well be protective.
….Children with this high degree of fever are likely to be symptomatic and at potentially high risk dehydration and delirium; ***Not advocating antipyretics for this high degree, would cause controversy among paediatricians and dismay among parents.***
(bolding and italics my (Nourishing Motherhood) addition: please note, this does not say that antipyretics are NEEDED; it states parents and Drs will be upset if they are not prescribed!)
We should not be in support of the following interventions: Antipyretics for …a febrile child with minimal or no symptoms such as discomfort. This constitutes a substantial proportion of febrile children. Such a recommendation may initially cause some dismay among parents because of their perception that their sick and needy children are not being treated. But, if we are to play a leadership role in our fields, we should help to educate the public about the results of research; Physical measures such as a fan or tepid sponging are discouraged. These are unnecessary and unpleasant for the child. Their main indication is hyperthermia; The practice of alternating antipyretics (paracetamol and Ibuprofen) should be discouraged for there is no evidence to support this practice. The practice can also increase parents’ fever phobia as it increases parental preoccupation with the height of the fever.
….. When we focus upon “treating” the fever, we are giving the impression to parents and health professionals that fever is harmful and that antipyresis is beneficial. Scientific evidence does not support this practice. To continue the current practice of liberal use of antipyretics may mean that we are ignoring important messages from research.
Read the full entry to understand the whole context, but for busy mums I’ve bolded the key, practical points.
When I became a mother in ’99, I felt it was an exciting rite of passage to dole out tasty Calpol (YUM!) at any HINT of warmth or teething. So I TOTALLY understand how long it can take to grow into a new understanding of the healthy, normal, bodily function fevers provide.
This is a handy article to have available if you get the wobbles in the middle of the night. Read right to the bottom to learn about the ingredients in Calpol.
There are numerous ways of working with fever holistically and our personal family favourite is homeopathy:
- Aconite: sudden onset of symptoms; patient intensely nervous, restless, anxious and fearful; skin is hot, dry; bounding pulse.
- Arsenicum album: fearful; restless; burning pain relieved by warmth; very thirsty for frequent sips of water; rapid prostration, increasing weakness; worse after midnight.
- Belladona: sudden onset of symptoms; patient has a flushed face, high temperature; pulse is strong and rapid; they have little to no thirst; may become delirious. Dry heat and dilated pupils give the need for belladonna away.
- Bryonia: “Grumpy bear” patient; patient prefers to lie still as they are worse from very little movement; very thirsty, drink large amounts of water; usually pale and quiet.
- Ferrum phosphoricum: gradual onset of symptoms; red cheeks, throbbing head, but milder than belladonna; pulse fast and weak, better from cold applications on the head.
- Gelsemium: dull, droopy, dumb, dopey; patient is chilly, aches all over, doesn’t want to move; dull headache, droopy eyes with an alert mind, heavy limbs, chills up and down back; despite fever, no thirst.
SERIOUS SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS REQUIRING URGENT CARE:
Symptoms of meningitis develop suddenly and can include a combination of:
- a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
- being sick
- a headache
- a blotchy rash that doesn’t fade when a glass is rolled over it (this won’t always develop)
- a stiff neck
- a dislike of bright lights
- drowsiness or unresponsiveness
- seizures (fits)
Signs of sepsis are wide-ranging. Seek urgent care if your baby:
- is very lethargic or difficult to wake
- looks mottled, bluish or pale
- feels abnormally cold to touch
- is breathing very fast
- has a rash that does not fade when you press it
- has a fit or convulsion
- is reluctant to feed, or not nursing at all
Always trust your intuition: if you are in doubt about your baby or child’s health gain medical support for reassurance. At Nourishing Motherhood we encourage the use of both holistic and allopathic medicine, with informed consent and full understanding of the implications and evidence of the choices made.