Fever is not to be feared

It is a natural response from your body
It is a sign that the immune system is functioning properly

When infection is present in your body this will trigger the temperature control mechanism in a part of your brain called the hypothalamus

This message will “set” the thermostat to go higher as your body begins to generate and conserve heat

It does this by shutting down the peripheral circulation which producing pallor
This is one of the first signs you may notice when your child is ill

Your child will also begin to shiver and seek warmth during this “chill” phase of the fever as their body attempts to increase body heat to the level needed to destroy invading organisms

This is when you dress your child warmly and cover with them with a blanket
You can also give a hot water bottle that has been wrapped in a nappy or tea towel

As a result of this increase in body temperature there is increased blood flow through the tissues of your body and the action of the phagocytes (cells that digest pathogens) increases

The body’s defense system has been alerted and mobilised

Even an increase in body temperature of a couple of degrees centigrade during a fever reduces the growth of, and  destroy some disease-producing organisms

The body has begun its healing process

That is why it is so important not to interrupt a fever with Panadol
It is more important to manage the fever so it can do its work

Once your body has generated enough heat to effect a reduction in pathogens the chill begins to recede and you may feel a little more comfortable

The message sent to the hypothalamus is now changed to “reduce” the fever and your temperature will return to normal

During this phase of the fever you begin to sweat and throw off covers causing your body to cool

In traditional terms the fever has “broken”
Crisis has been reached and hopefully the attack on the body has been resolved

Now convalescence and recovery can begin

what you can do

During fever offer plenty of fluids like breast milk or diluted juices to prevent dehydration

Herbal teas can be used to increase perspiration, which will help bring a high fever down to a more comfortable level

The volatile oils in these herbs also have antiseptic properties
These include chamomile, catnip, elderflower and thyme

Infusions of these herbs can be given to babies and children as a weak tea or an infusion can be added to the bath water

The essential oils of these herbs can also be used in a vaporiser to help fight the infection

Cold compresses to the head or feet using the herbs and essential oils mentioned above can also be used to reduce an uncomfortably high fever

A green clay poultice can be applied to the abdomen
This helps to stimulate the body’s own production of antibodies, thereby aiding the healing process

The higher the fever, the thicker the poultice needs to be
Leave in place for two hours before changing (see how to use clay)

Most babies and small children with a fever have a desire to be held and comforted
I have found in my own experience that the healing power of love is real
Take the time and stay with your feverish baby or child holding, cuddling and nurturing them in their time of need

By staying close to them you are also able to monitor the extent of their illness

Encourage rest and sleep, as these are also healing, allowing the body to do its work without interruption

Avoid draughts and breezes

If the fever is causing your child distress or you feel the fever is becoming too high, place your child in a warm bath into which you have added five drops of the essential oil of Eucalyptus

After the bath dress your child warmly and do not expose the body to cold air

As well as the fever destroying harmful things in your body, it can also burn up your vitamin C

It is important to keep your vitamin C levels replenished during a fever

You can do this by mixing one teaspoon of organic rosehip powder into 200mls of fresh juice and giving one teaspoon hourly to babies one year and over

If the baby is younger simply take rose hip powder yourself (three teaspoons a day in divided doses) and its benefits will pass through your milk

Avoid solid foods during a fever

If you are still breast feeding encourage your baby to drink from your breast as you will be producing antibodies  and passing them to your baby to help fight the infection
Diluted fresh juices and simple broths are excellent choices
It is important to keep fluids up during a fever

A feverish child needs 100-150mls of liquid for each 2.2kg of body weight per day and can be increased another 200mls of liquid per 2.2kg of body weight per day if vomiting and diarrhea are present

If the fever persists or you are worried by any accompanied symptoms, consult with your medical practitioner, particularly if

  • there is severe headache, extreme weakness, convulsions or stiffness in the neck
  • there are signs of severe irritability or confusion
  • unexplained rashes
  • see “when to consult with a practitioner”