Monday, February 18, 2013

To medicate or not to medicate. -Fevers

All kids get fevers at one point or another, the question is what do you do? A fever can be a scary thing. Most people see them as bad. But are they really?

(I'm one of the lucky few with baby who is always happy, even when sick.)

What causes a fever?

  • Infections are the most common cause of fever.
  • Medicines such as antibiotics, antihistamines and narcotics. This may be due to an adverse reaction or may be the drugs design.
  • Damage to tissue (surgery, heart attack, hemorrhage, etc.
  • Other medical issues (skin inflammation, arthritis, cancer, etc)

What is the point of a fever?

                 A fever is the natural response to an illness such as a viral or bacterial infection. Fever allows white blood cells to proliferate faster, and helps them migrate through tissue better. It also increases the virus-fighting ability of interferon's  and may decrease the ill effects of some bacterial toxins. It’s also thought that an overly warm environment may be less hospitable to bacteria that have developed in a way to thrive best at normal body temperatures. In laymens terms, a fever fights impending sickness. A fever may be a good thing!!

How and When do you treat a fever?

            This is the tricky part. Not all fevers require treatment. Often, it is better to let the fever run it's course. This will allow the body to naturally (and quickly) rid of the sickness. 

The following are the recommendations for treating a fever:
Baby 6 weeks or younger with fever of 101 or higher, consult your doctor immediately.
Baby 7 weeks to 3 months with fever at or above 101, consult your doctor within a few hours.
Baby 3 months to 9 months with persistent fever at or above 101, consult your dr within a few hours.
Baby or child above 9 months with persistent fever at or above 103, consult your doctor.

Waiting out the fever:

  • Stay hydrated (coconut water!!).
  • Stay comfortable (baths, cool cloths).
  • Keep track of how high the fever is.
  • Contact your doctor to decide whether to use the drug of your choice (tylenol, motrin, ibuprofin).
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Stay comfortable.

Why NOT medicate automatically?

Fever reducers are considered a fairly safe drug now-a-days. But let's think about this for a moment. A fever is there to fight an illness. By administering a fever reducer you are disabling the body's natural process to help you get healthy. In addition, drugs are a foreign object. When you add a foreign object into your body, your body turns it's attention to ridding itself of said foreign object, thus turning it's attention away from the illness. Make sense? So not only are you stopping the "fixing" process but you are throwing a wrench into the works!!!

to quote Dr. Sears
No. Many parents have a misconception that fevers are a bad thing and a sign that there is some serious underlying illness. This simply is not true. Fever is a normal and healthy response of the body to an illness. The body's immune system releases chemicals that raise the body temperature. This is part of the normal infection-fighting process."

Medicine has it's time and place in the world. 

  • If a fever of 103 or above is persistent (lasting 4 hours or more) the risks out weigh the benefits!! This is when we would contact our doctor. 

  • It is SO important to know your kid. I am aware that there are exceptions to the rule. Some kids may have other complications forcing you to treat a fever you may not treat otherwise. Just remember you know your kid better than anyone else!

Without further ado... here are some responses from mom's to the question 
"What do you do when your kid has a fever? How old are they?"

Emily says... "my soon to be 3 yr DD when she gets a fever under 101- I watch and increase fluids, over 101, I think possible ear, viral, bacterial, etc. increase vitamins and supplements and if over 103 usually Motrin- safer more effective then Tylenol- we always try cool cloths, onion in socks etc too. 

However my other DD is one now. She has history of high fevers usually once a month of 105 highest was 105.6 she instantly gets Motrin- anything over 101.4 after we are seen in clinic. ( she had recurrent sepsis, kidney infections, breathing issues, epilepsy and cerebral palsy. Her health history has been h*ll and we don't wait anymore- if we do we wind up admitted to hospital. . Hard to say! Every child is different and pays to have a mom that knows their child and can decide difference from not feeling week fever to serious illness like sepsis."

Brandy says... "My 9 mo had a fever about three weeks ago as did I (no flu just cold); since we are gluten free and LO is allergic to corn (syrup and starch are in OTC meds) which means there are really limited options. We did a lot of keeping him wrapped FWCC and nursing as often is possible while I stayed hydrated with water, tea, and homemade chicken soup. It took about 24 hours, I took his temp about every 4 hours just to track."

Whitney says... "We say 'thank goodness' because it means her body is working like it's supposed to. A fever is a great sign and should not be feared. Of course, it's not great your child is sick but the fever is burning off the infection. Addy has rid herself of 2UTI's and a few colds due to fevers. We do skin to skin and nurse and within a day or two she is 100% better. One time she hit 106 and I took her to the ER. The Doctor's told me to never fear a fever and to let it run it's coure. We don't medicate either, she is 2.5 years old!"

(I) say... "A fever is very important in fighting off infection. We medicate if the fever is sustained for 12 hours at 104 or more. We always keep our doctor in the loop but feel that it is more important for our daughter to fight off the infection naturally instead of intervening with possibly harmful medications."

LeastWicked says... "Our son is 23 months and we cherish a fever because it means his body is working to destroy the cause. We don’t medicate unless it’s over 102 or he is saying he is uncomfortable. We half dose with Advil. Give him a Luke warm bath. Give him a cool sippy. If it climbs above 103 we call the pedi and ask her opinion."

Megan says... "I never medicate for a fever. Our pediatrician told us that no fever is too high and that medicating a child to reduce a fever can actually make them sick longer. Letting a fever run its course is important for fighting infection."

Kristal says... "I don't medicate until we hit 104. The purpose of a fever is to kill the bad bacteria."

You know your child better than anyone else. Do you research and make an educated decision based on your personal situation. DO NOT let anyone make you feel like a crummy parent because you are doing what you feel is best for you child. Education is key!

What do you do when your child has a fever? How old are they?
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