While toddler fever is a common symptom in children, many parents find any rise in their child’s temperature alarming. In reality, the fever that accompanies a bacterial or viral infection is a blessing, not a curse. It occurs because of the spontaneous release of pyrogens, our body’s natural defense mechanism for fighting disease. The presence of fever tells you that your child’s repair mechanisms have gone into high gear.
Important note: In order for you to find this article by doing a Google Search for “Toddler Fever”, we had to write it in such a way that both humans and search engines could find it. As a result, when we refer to fever in this article we will call it “toddler fever”, even though the information applies to all fevers unless otherwise noted.
Many parents have been taught to fear fevers by the medical profession. How? Because of the typical pediatric practice of asking what a child’s temperature is when a parent calls to report that their child is sick.
While temperature does offer a diagnostic clue when it comes to assessing a sick child, toddler fever in and of itself is not a cause for concern. Unfortunately, because of the medical profession’s fixation on it, they have mistakenly caused parents to fear fever and worst yet to have the misconception that the height of the body temperature is an indication of the severity of the illness.
In reality, some illnesses like Roseola (one-day measles) produce extremely high temperatures while other more serious diseases may not produce any temperature at all. The height of fever is not a measure of the severity of an illness. Fever is the body’s natural defense against infection and is an indication that the process of healing is speeding up. It is something to rejoice over, not to fear as we will discuss next.
As already stated, the presence of toddler fever tells you that your child’s repair mechanisms have gone into high gear. The process works like this. When your child contracts an infection, his body responds by manufacturing additional white blood cells called Leucocytes. They destroy bacteria and viruses and remove damaged tissue and other irritating materials from the body.
When your child’s temperature rises it causes the activity of white blood cells to increase so that they move more quickly to the site of the infection. This part of the process is called Leucotaxis, and was stimulated by the release of the pyrogens that raised your child’s body temperature. Net, net, the presence of fever is an indication that your child’s healing process is speeding up. This is something to rejoice over, not fear.
Toddler fever in and of itself is not a cause for alarm. Animal studies have demonstrated that the death rate among animals with disease decreases when the body temperature is elevated. Unless your child’s fever unusually high (over 106 degrees) or is accompanied by additional symptoms such as vomiting or respiratory difficulties it is better to let it run its course.
So instead of fixating on your thermometer, pay attention to the overall appearance, behavior and attitude of your child. That will be a better indication of how sick he really is. Also pay attention to external factors that may be causing the fever like poisoning, exposure to toxic substances or over exertion in the heat (heatstroke).
If your toddler develops a high fever and you suspect outside causes may be causing it, do be concerned. If you suspect your child has swallowed poison or over-exerted himself in the hot sun, rush him to a hospital emergency room. If poisoning or toxic exposure is suspected, bring the container or information about the substance with you so that they antidote can be quickly identified.
Most of the toddler fevers that spell serious trouble are the result of poisoning, exposure to toxic substances, or caused by over exertion in the hot sun. Temperatures of 107 degrees or above resulting from these causes can result in lasting bodily harm. Children can rapidly become overheated in a sauna or hot tub, so it is a good idea to ensure you children don’t go into these environments.
If your child collapse or lapses into unconsciousness, even briefly, after strenuous activity in the hot sun or over exposure in a sauna or hot tub, take him to the hospital emergency room at once. Why? Because EXTERNAL influences can be very dangerous because they can overwhelm your child’s bodily defenses that prevent temperatures from soaring to dangerous levels.
YOU, not your pediatrician, are the best judge of normal versus abnormal behavior in your children. The best way to judge whether or not your child is in trouble is not taking his temperature. You can judge much more accurately by the appearance and behavior of your child. Extreme and abnormal behavior such as extreme listlessness, confusion, respiratory difficulty, and uncontrollable vomiting are all indications that you should see your doctor.
This article is about toddler fever, but you should know that a fever of any level in a newborn baby thru the first few months of life is reason to immediately see you doctor. If you are breastfeeding, this is likely something that you are extremely unlikely to experience since your baby will be receiving antibodies from you that will protect it from infection making it much less likely your baby will get sick, much less run a fever.
Remember, the toddler fever is helping your child heal. If your child is not presenting any of the above mentioned alarming symptoms, it is best to let it run its course. Do nothing unless the toddler fever persists for more than three days or other symptoms develop, or your child looks and acts really sick. In that event, see your doctor, preferably a holistic doctor.
For a great book about raising a healthy child as well as an entire chapter on fever, buy “How to Raise a Healthy Child” by Robert S. Mendelsohn, MD.
Make sure your child is getting 8 oz of water every hour to prevent dehydration. If your child is running a fever, he will need additional fluids to replace those he is losing by sweating coughing, having diarrhea, a runny nose, vomiting and breathing rapidly. Although any fluids will do, those that are easy to digest, provide electrolytes and have some nutritional value are best.
Our favorites fluids for treating toddler fever are plain water with a pinch of natural sea salt for the electrolytes, banana milk made by blending a banana with raw milk, and chicken broth. Chicken Broth is great since it provides electrolytes as well as gelatin to settle queasy stomachs. Warning: it must be homemade chicken broth since canned varieties are full of MSG often labeled as “natural flavors” or “natural spices”.
Don’t try to lower your child’s temperature with aspirin or acetaminophen. Don’t try to lower your child’s temperature with a sponge baths. Just let the fever run its course while providing your child lots of love and extra fluids.
Ensure your child eats a healthy diet. Avoid foods and drinks with lots of sugar as sugar can interfere with immune response (white blood cells) for up to 6 hours after consumption. For more information about this read Suicide by Sugar by Nancy Appleton, PhD.
I can’t just sit by while my child suffers! you may say, but remember, while reducing your child’s fever may make him more comfortable, you will be interfering with the natural healing process if you do it. As a parent, your first priority should be your child’s long term health, not immediate comfort.
We know! It’s hard being a parent and having to watch what your child has to go thru to develop a strong, healthy immune system… Again research has shown that the death rate of animals infected with disease is higher when their body temperature is lowered.
In one study during a measles epidemic in Ghana, Africa, children were divided into two groups. One group received antipyretics (fever reducers, such as aspirin) -- typical at many hospitals. Mortality was five times greater than in the group that did not receive this treatment.
In another study conducted in Afghanistan, 200 children with measles were divided into two groups. Once again, members of one group received aspirin to lower fever. The study revealed that children receiving the antipyretics had prolonged illness, more diarrhea, ear infections and respiratory ailments, such as pneumonia, bronchitis and laryngitis, and significantly greater mortality rates.
Studies demonstrating Fever Reducers Result in Increased Complication Rates and Mortality:
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