“Fever does not harm the brain or the body, though it does increase the need for fluids. And even untreated, fevers rarely rise higher than 104 or 105 degrees.”
via Lifting a Veil of Fear to See the Benefits of Child Fever – NYTimes.com.
This article reminded me to dig out one I wrote on the subject myself, a few years back, and never transferred to my new website. So here it is:
Making Friends With Fever
Fever: we flush, we sweat, we swoon. Our systems seem out of
control. And yet, research, experience, and my trust in our miraculous
design all tell me that fever is a beneficial, indeed brilliant and complex
adaptive response by our immune systems, in most circumstances.
Why then do so many people see fever as an enemy to be demolished
as quickly as possible? Fever is primarily a beneficial adaptation to
illness, controlled by the immune system with amazing sophistication:
simply raising body temperature kills many microorganisms; it also
decreases availability of minerals needed for bacterial and viral
replication, and at the same time, heat increases production of cells
needed to mobilize the immune response. It is not a failure of the
body, but a strategic response of genius.
One of the reasons I am concerned about the elimination of
childhood diseases such as chicken pox, measles, etc., and the fevers
that accompany them, is that I have always believed they are an
integral part of developing a healthy immune system, and that getting
through illness and high fevers when young is crucial for later health,
as well as stimulating growth and development immediately after.
Research links incidence of at least two fevers over 101° in the first year of life to markedly reduced incidence of allergies and asthma later on. The research points to reduced exposure to infections as one of the reasons we are seeing so much more allergy and asthma in kids.
Yet I am also aware that fever in a fundamentally healthy person is not the same as fever in a chronically ill or less healthy person. If one is unhealthy to begin with, the process can harm the “terrain” as much or more than the invader. Like it or not, living an unhealthy lifestyle that includes too many refined carbs and too much emotional and physical stress, lack of good nutrition and lack of exercise, not only makes us more prone to getting sick, but also more prone to difficulties when we need a fever to clear our system of unhealthy microorganisms.
Although a beneficial response, fever is also a stress on the body. It is costly energetically, and very demanding physically. At any given time, there is a given amount of stress we can handle without producing symptoms. The better care you take of yourself overall, the more stress you can handle without additional symptoms and the less likely the energetic “cost” of fever will tip your system toward further breakdown. This breakdown can take the form of secondary infections and complications.
So assuming you are fundamentally healthy, what should you do to treat a fever? Remember, temperature increase of a few degrees, by itself, is neither painful or dangerous. People enjoy the warmth of a few extra degrees of body temp when it comes from working out, a roaring fire, a hot bath, or a vigorous hike.
Perhaps, rather than suppressing the fever with Tylenol and the like, we would be better off fueling our body with calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, zinc, extra protein, taurine and glutamine, all of which are depleted during the acute phase fever response. Body aches, muscle cramps, loss of appetite and general malaise are all symptoms associated with excessive stress response and the depletion of these nutrients. Given that situation, ideal supplementation for fever might include electrolytes, easily digested protein drinks, a Ca/Mg supplement, and glutamine. You could also use immune enhancing supplements such as Echinacea, mushroom extracts and arabinogalactans.
Specific products, if you want to stock up, might include Electrolyte Synergy for minerals, L-glutamine powder to reduce aches and pain; Whey Cool or Dairy Free PaleoMeal for easy-to-digest, good tasting protein; and Arabinogalacatans powder. I have them all, and others, in my office, and would be happy to check exactly what would be most helpful and appropriate for you.
I also recommend Epsom Salts or baking soda with white vinegar in a hot bath; a fresh-made broth with lots of garlic, onions, sea or Himalyan salt, root vegetables, and greens; tea with raw local honey, fresh ginger, and a pinch of cayenne; and of course, lots of extra rest, sleep and fluids.
Of course, if you want my specific and customized recommendations for you or your child when you are sick, please make an appointment.