HOW WE MANAGE FEVER
It is so hard to see your kiddos uncomfortable, and we have been experiencing that this week. Our boys got their first nasty virus of the season -- and their first fevers this winter, and really for a long time. We were on a road trip up to Banff, Canada, and spending some time skiing, when we realized our kids got hit with a bug.
So what to do when your kid is fighting an infection and running warm?
The "old me" would have treated at the first sign of fever and alternated back and forth between tylenol and ibuprofen -- essentially until the fever was gone. My friends, that is a lot of medicine! Honestly, my kids haven't had tons of fevers over their lives, and for that I am thankful. So on one hand, one might say that it really isn't that much medicine over the grand scheme of things.
This past week when my kids got feverish, I knew I wanted to treat (or should I say manage) it differently than I did in the past. I ironically was reading a book by Thomas Cowen, in which he explains in detail the purpose of fever and why it is important in our design to fight infection. He says: "standard procedure is still give antipyretic (fever reducing) medicines at the first sign of a fever and to give antibiotics at the first sign of infection." He goes on to refute why that is not appropriate in most cases and why a fever is beneficial. It is an outward symptom of what the body is doing to flush an illness.
Our body uses a fever to fight an infection, so when we reduce it, our body is allowing the virus or bacteria to multiply more -- since the temp is lowered in our body. That said, I think it makes most sense to allow a fever to a certain degree.
I also believe that tylenol should be avoided when possible, since it is a hepatotoxic drug (can be toxic to the liver) and is easy to over dose on. We no longer have tylenol in our home, and I wrote more on tylenol and glutathione in this blog post. I prefer ibuprofen when needed -- which also depletes glutathione, but isn't potentially damaging to the liver.
This is my preference; everybody finds their own preferences and favorites. And although I do prefer ibuprofen, it doesn't mean I just dish it out during their entire fever. I reserve it for when it's needed, so that I'm not constantly depleting their glutathione (which is used to rid toxins from the body).
That said, here is what we do to manage fever in our house:
Support their discomfort in simple ways: minimize clothes (lightweight clothes, no heavy jammies, etc.), cool rags and a cozy place for them to rest. We encourage them to do activities when they are feeling okay (paint, play games, read) and then are okay with movies and couch and cuddles when needed. They will need extra love and down time!
Tepid epsom salt baths for detox + cooling of the body. I set the temperature so that it is warm enough to cool them but cool enough to impact their body temp.
Vitamin D3 can modulate the innate and adaptive immune responses. Deficiency in vitamin D is associated with increased autoimmunity as well as an increased susceptibility to infection. We supplement them we D3 often, but especially when sick. I just put the drops right into their smoothies.
Vitamin C supplementation. I use camu camu, which I add to their smoothies. It has ten times the vitamin C as a small orange! I add a tsp of it to their smoothies once a day.
Minimize sugar, since it curbs the effects of the immune system cells that are fighting the bacteria or virus. For us, this doesn't mean all sugar, since yes sugar is in fruits, etc. We just try to avoid treats, etc.
Minimize dairy if there is lots of mucus going on, since it can make phlegm thicker. We use alternative milks and options made with almond milk, coconut milk, etc.
Nourishing foods for when they are hungry. Yes, of course they may want plain toast, etc. As our bodies don't really have an appetite for much when fighting an illness. But I try to give my kids one smoothie a day, especially when sick. In their smoothies, I sneak in so many goodies for their bodies -- see my smoothie post linked for that. I also add Leefy turmeric + ginger root to their smoothies.
Elderberry syrup can help boost the immune system. We make our own, as well as get some from many amazing companies (I share these on instagram often). I give this to my kids at least a couple times a day when sick.
Treat when fever is 103 ... OR if the child is very uncomfortable and not like himself/herself. To me, this gives the body time to let the fever ride on, until it starts rising to the point where I am uncomfortable. At this point, I would treat with ibuprofen. Or at the point in which your kid just isn't tolerating the fever well at all - that is another time of course you can treat. It's all up to you and what feels right. This is not medical advice, but what we do.
Allow plenty of rest + hydration. This seems obvious, but so important! This past week our kids were even taking 4 hour naps during the days.
We also do a roller with some essential oils, which I know people have different comfort levels with. And as far as the treating with ibuprofen -- for us, this is what makes sense -- since our kids seem to manage fine at 101, 102. But every child (and parent!) is different. This is our story and not a blanket recommendation. We honestly don't deal with this much, but this is what I did this last week (and am still doing - as my kids are still fighting a bug).
Another thing to keep in mind, is that if you chronically suppress all levels of fever, you might think your child is fine and send them onto school or activities in which they would be sharing the virus or bacteria with their friends. It's important to be able to get an understanding for how the child is doing and not suppress all symptoms completely. I am not against meds (we have given our kids some ibuprofen this week for a fever of 103!) but I am for allowing the body to heal, when it can safely. I also like my kids to be at least 24 hours fever free before I send them back to school, etc.
And lastly, of course, work with your trusted health care provider and contact them when there is concern or you have questions, etc. When our kids are sick, we monitor their breathing (respiratory rate), energy, and so forth -- making sure they are doing okay as we manage them at home. We would seek care if needed! And there are so many little things I didn't go into here, like how I sleep with my children if I feel they need to be monitored throughout the night, and how I avoid medicines with junk in them (yes that's right!).
I hope this helps. I know I've already said this before, but of course this is not targeted, personalized medical advice for you or your children. This is how we manage fever in our home. I am constantly learning and adjusting, and I'm sure my strategies will change over time, too.
Stay well, my friends. XO.