Fevers

It is when babies and young children, not adults, get a fever that we become concerned. The most natural response to a child’s fever is to cool it down. When the normal strategies of stripping off clothes and cool bathing don’t work, there is always the paracetamol to turn to.

We are concerned about the ongoing research that links paracetamol to allergies. Given that the incidence of allergies in Australia and other developed countries is escalating at a phenomenal rate, without a known cause, it is worth serious consideration!

The Problem

A study of over 200,000 children from 31 countries, published in the medical journal The Lancet suggests that using paracetamol in the first year of life is linked to an increased risk of asthma and other allergies. Giving paracetamol to treat fever in children in the first year of life means that child has a 46% greater risk of having asthma symptoms at age 6 to 7. The study also found that 6 to 7 year-olds who had taken paracetamol once a month in the 12 months prior had a had a three fold increase risk of asthma.

Allergies can lead to inflammation in the airways; the basis of asthma. Paracetamol may switch the immune system to become more allergic.

Australian paediatric allergy specialist Professor Andrew Kemp of the Children's Hospital Westmead says that it is important know the effects of paracetamol, because so many people take it. If a link is proven, then 20 to 40% of asthma cases might be attributed to paracetamol exposure.

Dr Raymond Mullins, president of the Australasian Society for Clinical Immunology and Allergy says the study is fascinating because there is no explanation as to why allergies are so much more common than they used to be.

The Dilemma

This then presents the problem for parents, of what to do when their children get a fever. Firstly, many doctors recommend only treating fevers above 38.5°C, but the World Health Organisation recommends that paracetamol should be used only to treat fevers above 39°C.

Simple methods to reduce fever include giving the child plenty of fluids, removing their clothes, and sponging them with tepid water. Some children tolerate fevers better than others, so it’s not always necessary to treat a child just because they get a fever. The purpose of a fever is to kill the bugs that are causing it, so there is an argument for allowing the fever to run, especially in older children.

Fortunately, homeopathic medicines offer a low risk option to treat fevers and infections.

Guidelines

Please note that this information is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment.

If there is a family history of allergies, avoiding paracetamol (or any medication – antibioitics in early life also increase the risks of developing allergies) in the first year of life is even more important. Homeopathic medicines offer a gentle alternative for fever and pain management.

A short-lived high fever in a child is a healthy response to an infection. Sometimes the fever comes and goes within 24 hours and the cause is never known. When we treat children who have been unwell for many months or longer and have a long history of antibiotic use, a high fever is ‘the fever you have to have’ in order to get better from the merry-go-round of illness & medication.

Fever does not cause illness;

it is the body’s defense against disease.

See it as your ally!

Our Approach

Extract on fevers from our book ‘Treat Your Child Yourself’. 

Fever presents no immediate risk to children unless it becomes very high. Most children tolerate fevers very well. A normal temperature is 36.9ºC and a temperature of over 37.5ºC is considered to be a fever. The most important thing to do is to find out the cause of the fever. Is it from tonsillitis, ear infection, chest infection, flu, measles or chicken pox? Once you know the cause of the fever, then you know what to do. If you are not sure why your child has a fever, and it continues for more than a day, see your practitioner.

When a child gets a fever, it can be reassuring to understand that the immune system is doing the job it is supposed to. It is increasing the body’s temperature so the bacteria or virus will be extinguished. Unless your child’s fever is above 39ºC, reducing it with paracetamol is likely to prolong the fever. We generally don’t treat a fever that is below 38.5ºC. Above 38.5ºC may not need treating either, but parents become anxious and want to do something about it. Look at your child, not the number on the thermometer to know how ‘sick’ they are. Some children run around our offices with a 39ºC fever and little more than a flushed face. They are tolerating their fever very well and there is little need for concern, so long as the fever resolves after a day or so. Other children do not tolerate a lower temperature of say 38ºC and look really unwell. The cause of the fever, not the fever itself, is the problem.

Practical Measures

  • Take the child’s temperature every three or four hours.
  • Check for pain to indicate where the infection might be.
  • Give plenty of fluids, but little food.
  • We do not recommend using aspirin or Nurofen in children.
  • Make sure you have directions from your health care practitioner

Homeopathic Medicines

Homeopathic medicines which are beneficial in children with fever can be prescribed by your health care practitioner.

Important:

If the fever has been 39ºC or higher for longer than six hours, and is unresponsive to the medicines mentioned here, see your practitioner.

If the fever is accompanied by a headache, nausea, vomiting, intolerance to light, a stiff neck and a skin rash, take the child to your nearest Emergency Unit immediately.

Can Homeopathic MedicinesTreat Infections Effectively?

Most infections can be treated effectively with homeopathic medicines, provided your health care practitioner sees your child early enough. For children and adults who repeatedly get infections, preventative treatment in between times is even more important.

 


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