Instant Natural Remedies for Fever in Babies: Facts and Prevention
At the first sign of a fever parents often panic but we should much rather be turning to natural remedies to cure fever instead of the medicines that are so commonly used. No one wants to see their child sick. But fever is actually the body's defence mechanism against bacteria and viruses.
Although there are times where medical intervention is needed, fever is actually much better at healing your child than the medicines the doctors or pharmacists often give you. In this article, we'll look at how a fever is actually beneficial, how to treat it and when to seek medical attention.
Fever is a reaction to a pathogen enetered the body. Usually, when you contract a virus or get an infection, for example, your body's first line of defence is having macrophages "eat" the virus or bacteria to get rid of it. But sometimes this is unsuccessful and your body needs to do more to fight against what is making you ill. Fever is the second line of defense along with the rest of your immune system.
Your immune system basically signals to your brain that there is a virus or bacteria that needs to be destroyed. You will then develop a fever which is the raising of your body temperature to fight against the pathogens. A fever of 38.3 to 38.8°C or 101 to 102°F is when white blood cells are signaled to be released. White blood cells fight off infections. Dr. Mercola says:
Naturopathic treatment is to support a fever, unless it rises too high or too quickly. A fever of 102 degrees F to 103 degrees F is considered the optimal defence against microbes.
That would be 38.8 to 39.4°C. Part of how the body creates a fever by releasing a hormone called TRH, shivering and decreased blood flow to the skin. Fever with Chills could be sign of "Dengue"
Symptoms Of Fever:
- Muscle aches
- Loss of appetite
- Raised body temperature
The Benefits Of A Fever
These symptoms can often scare parents into calling the doctor but letting a fever run its course and supporting it naturally instead of reaching for medications that can do more harm than good.
Fevers help to:
- Kill of the viruses and bacteria: They prefer colder temperatures, and a fever causes heat that is too much for them.
- Stops the viruses and bacteria from replicating: This stops the illness from progressing and spreading any further.
- Better immune action: During this time, more white blood cells are released and they work better. More antibodies and an antiviral substance called interferon are also released to fight the virus and bacteria.
- Make sure iron isn't accessed by bacteria: Bacteria love iron and feed off of it. A fever blocks off the iron from the bacteria, essentially starving it.
Fever ( a raised body temperature ) kills pathogens in the body, the immune system gets activated. Never try to suppress a fever if the symptoms are not troublesome. A fever should be supported or left alone rather than treated. In fact, breaking a fever quickly with medicine stops the healing process and can even worsen the illness.
The immune system can be weakened and your child could become sick more often and more severely. This even goes for everyone in your family and not just kids. This is even recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics:
Fevers generally do not need to be treated with medication unless your child is uncomfortable or has a history of febrile convulsions. The fever may be important in helping your child fight the infection.
The Right Time For Medical Attention
As helpful as a fever is, there are times when medical attention is needed. In these cases, it can be a sign that something more than a common cold or flu is at play.
See The Doctor If:
- Your child is under 3 months old and develops a fever
- Your child has a fever over 39°C or 102.2°F
Any time a child looks ill, in distress or there is swelling accompanying the fever it's best to get them to the doctor. Also, a fever that rises very high very fast could be a sign of an infection that's too serious for the body to handle and requires medical attention. Another time to take your child to the doctor is if he or she has had a febrile convulsion or if your child has a history of febrile convulsions. It's always best to make sure that these convulsions (seizures) are not due to something more serious like meningitis.
After vaccinations, my daughter would have a fever of 38.3 to 38.8°C or 101 to 102°F, but she did not appear ill. Yes! She was fussy from time to time but active. She never cried because of discomfort, so I could imagine that the discomfort is not that bad. I never gave her paracetamol or any NSAID. Yes! I gave her lots of attention, love and did the things that she loves and gave her lots of liquid to flush the viruses out of her body.
The most common medicines given to children when they have a fever is ibuprofen and acetaminophen. These medicines interfere with the fever causing it to break and the body to stop releasing antibodies before they have helped to kill off the virus or bacteria. This can make the illness last longer and even worsens the symptoms and infectiousness.
Ibuprofen can cause issues with the stomach lining especially after long-term use which is another concern. Acetaminophen is also not the best medicine to give anyone despite its popularity. It's shocking how easy it is to overdose on just a little amount over the recommended dosage which can cause problems with the liver and brain.
Aspirin should never be given to children because it can cause far more harm than good. It raises their risk for an illness that affects their liver and brain. Meaning that you might lower the symptoms for the present fever outbreak but the risk to get fever again would be higher the next time.
These medicines should never be used unless your child is actually sick enough to need them and then under very strict supervision and by sticking to the exact dosage given by the doctor. It's far better to treat the fever naturally and in a supportive way. There will be no drugs involved and the fever is left to do its work to get rid of the pathogens and heal your child.
Natural Home Remedies For Fever In Babies
- Give a lot of fluid: Formula milk or breast milk. Breast milk has antibodies that fight off infections. I even used to put a little bit of turmeric in the formula water. Water pre-boiled with elderberry, catnip or nettle leaf is a good way to help the body fight infections. Urine is the exit route of the bacteria.
- Add electrolytes: If your child is vomiting or has diarrhea, it can dehydrate them quickly. Add electrolytes to his or her drinks to keep them well hydrated and to help their body retain important nutrients that help their body function at it's best.
- Feed your child broth-based soups: Fever slows down digestion to concentrate on fighting the pathogens. So it's best to give your child a broth to eat rather than any solid or hard to digest foods. or simple chicken soup would be fine as well.
- Remove unnecessary blankets and clothing: Taking your child's socks off, any extra clothing and removing any extra blankets will keep them from overheating and they will feel more comfortable. Sponging your child with a lukewarm sponge can also help. Or give a bath with lukewarm water.
- Let your child rest: Children are often sleepy when they have a fever. Rest is necessary. Whenever the body is made to do other activities during a fever it has to divert energy to things other than fighting off the infection. When your child is sleepy, let them sleep. If they start to play, it can be a good sign that he or she is getting better.
To Calm Your Child
Chamomile is a soothing herb that helps not only to calm and soothe but has anti-inflammatory effects. It's safe for children to drink as a tea as long as they are not allergic to coneflowers. Peppermint tea is refreshing and has pain-relieving properties. Lemon balm is also calming as well as being able to relieve a cold and tastes great as a tea.
If your child is older than 12 months, add in some manuka honey which adds a little bit of sweetness and has anti-bacterial properties. Manuka honey is expensive, but I have a bottle in my house, to use just in case of fever and colds. It works perfectly. Read more about the benefits and best types of honey here.
Headaches in children can be caused by blocked sinuses, stress and can also be triggered by certain foods and substances. Clearing up the congestion in the sinuses can help with the headaches that it causes. Read the section on mucus for remedies.
- Massage: For stress, giving your child a light shoulder, head or temple massage can ease the tension. Getting them to rest, relax and also doing something fun that they enjoy also helps.
- Cold Wrap: For other headaches, putting a cold cloth or ice that is wrapped in a cloth on the area where they feel the pain can be useful. Always keep your child well hydrated since dehydration can also cause headaches.
- Tea: Peppermint tea, ginger, and chamomile tea are soothing and can provide natural pain relief.
- Essential Oils: Try peppermint for tension headaches. Peppermint and basil for migraines, and rosemary for general headache pain.I add them in a diffuser and let it run for 2-3 hours in the baby´s room.
- Identify the trigger- If your child's headaches are not caused by a cold or the flu, keep a record of all the headaches and anything your child did, ate or was around before a headache started. This should help you to be able to identify any triggers.
Some Foods That Can Trigger Headaches Are:
- Processed Meats
- Artificial sweeteners
- Mature and aged cheeses
- Dried fruits
If there are any foods, activities or substances that trigger the headaches, avoid them. Another thing that can help is letting your child rest in a cool and dark room until a headache goes away. If other symptoms like a stiff neck and vomiting accompany a headache, it's best to take your child to the doctor to rule out anything serious.
Mucus Relief For Kids
Mucus can make breathing more difficult and cause coughing and irritation in the throat. Keeping your child hydrated is important to thin the mucus. Letting your child sit upright and sleep elevated can really help as well. Letting your baby sleep on your chest is a good way to keep him or her elevated and to give love and calm you both.
A suction or syringe bulb can be used to clear a stuffy nose and using a vapour rub that is safe for babies and toddlers (read the label on the tub) can help to clear up congestion too. Rubbing it on the back, chest, and neck and even rubbing some onto your child's feet and putting socks on can help. A humidifier or steam can help to keep the sinuses moisturized and prevent irritation.
Feed Your Child The Following:
1. Broth-based soups: Broth-based soups are great because they will keep your child hydrated. Chicken soup is no myth. It contains cysteine which is an amino acid that helps to thin mucus in the lungs making it easier to cough up. Vegetable soups made with carrots, pumpkin, cauliflower, and beetroot can be great too.
2. Lemon juice and honey: Lemon juice has often been used as a decongestant, give your child a teaspoon full of warm lemon juice mixed with honey every few of hours.
Avoid The Following:
- Dairy. The exception is babies under 12 months who are still being breastfed. Breast milk is healthy for your baby. Dairy does not make more phlegm but it can irritate and thicken the mucus that is already there.
- Sugar. Added sugar and sugary foods can be irritating. Rather use raw or manuka honey.
- Refined grains like white bread and white pasta
- Fried foods
Sore throats often accompany colds and flu and can be aggravated by coughing. A drink of warm water with honey has anti-bacterial effects and soothes a sore throat. Peppermint tea also soothes the throat and peppermint oil can be used in a diffuser which can help to unblock stuffy noses. Give your child nutrient-dense foods to eat that are gentle on the throat and easy to swallow like mashed cauliflower, carrots or sweet potato.
If there isn't a lot of phlegm, organic raw grass-fed yoghurt and kefir can also be given. Acidic foods can irritate a sore throat, so stay away from tomatoes and citrus fruits. Last but not the least, if you or your child tends to get frequent sore throats, please understand that this is a sign of a poorly functioning immune system. Read more about treating colds and flu naturally here.
Boost Your Child's Immune System
- Healthy diet: This is one of the best things that you can do. Avoid sugar and products that contain it like commercial fruit juices, cake, biscuits, desserts, sugary breakfast cereals and dairy products. Be sure to eat a wide variety of vegetables and lean meat and fish. Healthy starches like sweet potato are great for energy, satiety and they have a lot of nutrients.
Every time my kid asks for a snack, I have two options either to give her a cookie or bread which is convenient or to do a little effort and cut an avocado or cucumber or carrots to her. So this is a choice you have to make every day. The simplest way is right in morning get your baby´s snacks ready on the shelf.
This will bring a huge change in her health. Even every Sunday, I make some healthy snacks like coconut balls made with coconut flour and Raw honey, or oat cookies for my baby.
Use vitamin supplements: Vitamin C is naturally found in many vegetables, but cooking can destroy this nutrient. Vitamin D is easy to get from a few minutes spent in the sun without sunscreen and foods like eggs. Taking supplements during the winter months and at a higher dose for 3 days during illness can be very helpful in reducing the severity and duration of the cold or flu.
Truth About Antibiotics
Antibiotics kill off bacteria. One of the worst problems with antibiotics is that in addition to killing the bad bacteria causing illness, it kills off the good bacteria that help the immune system to fight illnesses too. This will compromise the immunity forever and the body gets more prone to catch various infections. Though there are times when antibiotics are necessary, common colds and flu are better treated naturally.
In fact, because colds and flu are viruses, antibiotics have no effect on them. Symptoms like an earache and even sore throats are also often viral and not bacterial. Antibiotics have long-lasting effects on the way the gut works. It can take up to two years for the gut to fully recover. If kids get antibiotics again in that time, the gut will not have had sufficient time to return to normal. This increases the risk of asthma, allergies, weight gain and falling ill again.
A healthy gut is essential to good health. Antibiotics should never be used unless truly required. Dr. Chris Kresser quotes on his site:
"Sore throats shouldn’t typically be treated with antibiotics, either. In children under 5 years old, 95 percent of sore throats are viral. In older children (ages 5 to 16), 70 percent of sore throats are viral. In fact, only 20 percent of sore throats are thought to be caused by bacterial infections.
Often the only illnesses that can be treated effectively are sinus infections, ear infections, and illnesses that affect the lungs like pneumonia or bronchitis if they are caused by bacteria."
Signs Of A Possible Bacterial Infection
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Sudden confusion or disorientation (this is rare)
- Rashes or blisters, they may be painful as well
- A fever over 38.8°C or 102°F
- A fever that gets worse instead of better
- Ear infection
- Painful eyes
- Green nasal discharge
- Yellow or green phlegm
Often the symptoms of a bacterial infection will last longer than 14 days. Viruses are generally in the body for a shorter amount of time. Always check with the doctor about whether the infection is bacterial and whether the antibiotics are absolutely necessary. In the cases where your child will heal without the use of antibiotics, rather leave the antibiotics.
- A slight fever heals the body by activating the antibodies and white blood cells that fight infections.
- Treating the fever with medication can stop your child's body from fighting the infection and even worsen it.
- Keep your child well hydrated with breast milk or formula, and herbal teas like elderberry or nettle leaf.
- Give your child broth-based soups and easy to digest mashed vegetables like cauliflower and sweet potato.
- A healthy diet is the first step to a strong immune system for you and your child.
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- Vitamin C and D help boosts the immune system and can be used in higher doses for three days during illness.
- Medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen can cause damage to the stomach lining and liver if used incorrectly or too often.
- Aspirin should never be given to a child of any age including teenagers.
- Only use antibiotics and other medications if absolutely necessary.
- Call your doctor if your child has a fever higher than 39°C or 102.2°F, the fever rises very quickly, or if your child has had a seizure or a history of seizures