I hope this helps you. It will take a couple of posts to get it all in. I hope I'm not violating any sort of copyright. I'm just pasting an email I received and was asked to pass on.
Fever in Children - A Blessing in Disguise
By Linda B. White and Sunny Mavor
Originally printed in Mothering Magazine Excerpted from Kids, Herbs, and Health: A Parents' Guide to Natural Remedies by Linda B. White, MD, and Sunny Mavor, AHG, $21.95, with permission from Interweave Press, 1999.
Fever is not a disease but rather a symptom of an illness.
Childhood fevers frighten grownups.
Fever is maligned and misunderstood.
Controversy surrounding the management of fever causes anxiety for parents, because they are not completely sure what to do when their child has one. It may help parents to remember that fever is only one part of the picture of an illness. In fact, for children under eight years of age, and especially for infants, the severity of a fever is an unreliable indicator of the severity of the child's illness. For example, infants and toddlers can be very sick with a low or even subnormal temperature. Conversely, children three to eight years old can be running about quite cheerfully with a fairly impressive fever. The important thing is how your child is acting, not the thermometer reading. Defining Fever First, let's define normal body temperature. Most people say 98.6ºF (37ºC) is normal, but this doesn't account for individual variations or the fact that kids tend to run slightly hotter than adults. You can think of anything between 97º and 99.4ºF (36º and 37.4ºC) as normal. Consumption of hot food, recent exercise, overbundling, hot weather, or an overheated room can drive body temperature up a degree or two. Body temperature also varies during the course of the day, and, with teenaged girls, the menstrual cycle. Fevers usually hit their highest point in the late afternoon. Conversely, kids often have their lowest temperature of the day early in the morning. So don't panic at 4 p.m. when your child's fever rises slightly; this does not necessarily forebode a raging fever. On the other hand, if your child has a low-grade fever upon awakening, you may want to keep him home. How Fever Happens Infections most commonly launch fever, especially in children. Other triggers include transfusion reactions, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, tumors, inflammatory reactions caused by trauma, medications (including some antihistamines, antibiotics, or an overdose of aspirin), immunizations, and dehydration. Most physicians do not believe that teething directly causes significant fever, but we have seen it happen. When infectious "bugs" stimulate white blood cells in a specific way, they release a substance called endogenous pyrogen, which signals the brain's hypothalamus to raise the body's thermostat setting. In turn, the body heats up by increasing its metabolic rate, shivering, or seeking warm environments. It also minimizes heat loss by restricting blood flow to the skin, giving it a pale appearance. Once body temperature rises, the skin flushes and sweats. A fever sufferer may lose appetite and feel lethargic, achy, and sleepy. When these phenomena happen to our children, we just tuck them into bed and let them sleep. A basic fever, one due to minor bacterial or viral illness, can be an expression of the immune system working at its best. Given that most animals (vertebrates anyway) mount a fever in response to illness, it's likely that humans have preserved this evolutionary response because it improves survival. Some research supports this theory; animal studies show when fever is blocked, survival rates from infection decline. Fever increases the amount of interferon (a natural antiviral and anticancer substance) in the blood. A mild fever also increases the white blood cells that kill cells infected with viruses, fungi, and cancer, and improves the ability of certain white blood cells to destroy bacteria and infected cells. Fever also impairs the replication of many bacteria and viruses. Bottom line: A moderate fever is a friend, but not one you want to spend a lot of time with. So it makes sense to avoid suppressing moderate fevers with drugs, while continuing to monitor your child for dramatic increases in temperature and worsening of any other of his symptoms. Can Fever Do Harm? Any time body temperature increases, salt and water are lost via sweating, and stores of energy and vitamins, especially the water-soluble ones, are burned up. During moderate fevers, we can compensate for these losses by drinking appropriate fluids, ingesting nutritious foods, or taking vitamin supplements.
Replacing water-soluble vitamins (chiefly C and Bs) makes sense. However, during fevers, the body makes some minerals unavailable for a good reason - bacteria need them to thrive. In terms of energy stores, our bodies switch from burning glucose (the favorite meal of bacteria) to burning protein and fat.
This means a few days of poor appetite is probably adaptive. In other words, don't cajole or coerce your children into eating during fevers if they don't feel hungry; they will likely regain any lost weight quickly after the illness ends. You do, however, need to encourage fluids, because dehydration alone can drive up fever.
Very high fevers - those above 106°F (41°C) - can harm the heart and brain. Some authorities, however, say that fever is unlikely to cause brain damage in a previously healthy child. During most infections, the brain keeps body temperature at or below 104°F (40°C). So in most - not all - cases, you don't need to be afraid that your child's temperature is going to continue to rise above that point.
What About Febrile Seizures?
First, let's define them. These abnormal jerking movements occur in children between the ages of three months and five years in association with a fever, but without evidence of infection of the nervous system. The seizure lasts no longer than 15 minutes (usually five minutes or less) and causes twitching all over. About 3 percent of kids get febrile seizures.
The reason some children have this susceptibility isn't well understood. Of those kids who have a first-time febrile seizure, about one-third have a recurrence. Risks for recurrence go up with younger age at the first seizure (16 months old or less) and a family history of febrile seizures.
Frightening as these seizures are for parents, they're benign; once they pass, the child continues to develop normally. Often pediatricians can help parents learn to block high temperatures by giving ibuprofen or acetaminophen when fevers start. For the few children who have recurrent febrile seizures, anticonvulsants or sedatives may be used.
What to Do If Your Child Has a Febrile Seizure
Try to stay calm. That's a tall order, but your child needs you to be collected. Take a deep breath. Let it out. Tell yourself that the seizure will not last long (although it may seem like forever) and that your child will likely be fine afterward.
Look at your watch to time the length of the seizure. This sounds like a big demand, given the anxiety a parent naturally feels. However, you will otherwise overestimate the time, and the duration of the seizure is important information for the doctor. If it exceeds five minutes, call 911.
Turn your child on his side. This reduces his risk of gagging on or inhaling secretions.
Make sure the immediate environment is safe. Remove objects your child might hit.
Do not restrain your child. After the seizure is over, comfort and reassure your child, then call your doctor for an immediate appointment. He or she will want to evaluate your child for any abnormalities (other than fever) that may have triggered the seizure. If the seizure lasted longer than five minutes and/or your child seems to be very sick, your physician may tell you to go to the emergency room right away.