Supporting a fever... not treating, and saying NO to Tylenol.
Updated: Nov 3, 2020
Seeing your child unwell is the hardest thing to watch as a parent. Their little concerned eyes looking into yours for comfort.
It is our job as parents to show them confidence and guide them to a path of comfort.
The only way to do this, is to remove the fear of the fever.
Let's educate ourselves on what a fever is and what to do to support the body to recover. We do not need to suppress the fever. The fever is the immune systems ("good guy") way to remove the toxin ("bad guy").
---Fevers are generally not dangerous, the toxin could be!---
The fever tells you that your child’s repair mechanisms have gone into high gear. When your child contracts an infection, his body responds by creating additional white blood cells called Leucocytes. These destroy bacteria and viruses and remove damaged tissue and other toxins from the body. When your child’s temperature rises, it causes the activity of white blood cells to increase so that they move more quickly to the site of the infection. This part of the process is called Leucotaxis, and was stimulated by the release of the pyrogens that raised your child’s body temperature. The presence of fever is a sign that your child’s healing process is speeding up. This is something to rejoice over, not fear.
Animal studies have demonstrated that the death rate among animals with disease decreases when the body temperature is elevated.
Unless your child’s fever is unusually high (over 107 degrees) or is accompanied by additional symptoms such as significant lethargy, respiratory difficulties or a known external cause such as a poison, it is better to let it run its course.
Reasons for concern and need to call pediatrician and/or go to the ER:
Fever in a child under 3 months
Fever with neck pain and sensitivity to light
Fever with painful urination, swollen joints, or inability to walk.
Fever with difficulty breathing, rapid breathing or wheezing.
Fever with any change in mental status (ie, not responsive, seizure, significant lethargy)
Fever and dehydration (not drinking, no urine in >8 hours, dry mouth, no tears)
Being alert and active, talking and making eye contact, being aware of the surroundings and breathing comfortably, having a moist mouth and/or tears, and drinking/staying hydrated are good signs that your child isn’t overwhelmed by the fever/infection.
Over the years we have been manipulated to believe we need Tylenol whenever we see a certain number. A fever isn't even considered "brain damaging" until it reaches 108 degrees. F. Febrile seizures can occur below this number. Yes, the sound of it is scary, but these seizures shouldn't be the reason to give your baby Tylenol. If your child is normally healthy these seizures are actually completely safe! Now Tylenol on the other hand not only takes away the body's ability to function properly, it depletes sulfur. Acetaminophen is the true "bad guy" here. It is extremely toxic to the liver. It is the number one cause of liver damage in the UK and number 2 in the US.
Ok, hang in there while we get scientific for a minute...
The liver converts acetaminophen into N-acetyl-p-benzoquinone imine (NAPQI) in an attempt to get rid of it. The problem is that NAPQI requires huge amounts of a VERY important antioxidant called glutathione in order to make it less toxic. Glutathione is responsible for scavenging all the free radicals produced all over the body. NAPQI uses up glutathione in HUGE quantities, leaving excess free radicals to burn. This then causes DNA and cellular damage all over the body. The liver then has to deal with not only the lack of glutathione, but the highly toxic NAPQI. Liver cell damage, necrosis, and liver failure follows. This is why there is a possibility of developing autism spectrum. Taking Tylenol during pregnancy is also associated with elevated risks for autism and ADHD.
Biochemist William Shaw of Great Plains Laboratory confirmed acetaminophen depletes glutathione in autism: "The characteristic loss of Purkinje cells in the brains of people with autism is consistent with depletion of brain glutathione due to excess acetaminophen usage, which leads to premature brain Purkinje cell death."
How popular is acetaminophen?
More than 50 million Americans use acetaminophen each week. It's most widely used drug ingredient in the U.S., found in more than 600 prescription and over-the-counter (“OTC”) medications, including allergy pills, cold medicines, cough syrups, headache pills, and sleep aids. Although nobody is tracking exactly how much acetaminophen our children receive today, we do know that more than 90 percent of all kids today receive the drug during early development.
Common Over-the-Counter Brand Name Medicines Containing Acetaminophen
Alka-Seltzer Plus LiquidGels®
TYLENOL® Brand Products
*And store brands
Common Prescription Medicines Containing Acetaminophen
Tylenol® with Codeine
*And generic medicines
Other studies in biochemistry, epidemiology, pharmacology and developmental biology are looking into the underlying mechanisms at work. Specifically, under particular conditions – which is why every child exposed to acetaminophen does not develop autism – the liver metabolizes acetaminophen into a toxic substance (NAPQI). NAPQI attacks the developing brain, literally destroying tissue much the same as any other poison would.
Circumcised boys – who are typically given acetaminophen for pain relief -- have 50 percent more autism than uncircumcised boys. This study finds that postnatal acetaminophen measured in doses consumed before age two is associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder risk in male children. Cuba, a country without access to acetaminophen, reportedly has extremely low rates of autism. Unusual and unexplained rates of autism in Israel and in South Korea may also have their roots in levels of acetaminophen exposure in those countries.
Researchers at Harvard, Duke, UCLA, have more than 14 studies that have been published in leading journals such as JAMA Pediatrics and Autism Research establishing the link between acetaminophen and brain damage during early development. Evidence the U.S. autism epidemic initiated by acetaminophen (Tylenol) is aggravated by oral antibiotic amoxicillin/clavulanate (Augmentin) and now exponentially by herbicide glyphosate (Roundup).
MYTH. Fevers above 104° F (40° C) are dangerous. They can cause brain damage.
FACT. Fevers with infections don't cause brain damage. Only temperatures above 108° F (42° C) can cause brain damage. It's very rare for the body temperature to climb this high. It only happens if the air temperature is very high. An example is a child left in a closed car during hot weather.
MYTH: Breaking a fever will stop the infection.
FACT: The cytokines that cause the fever also signal the immune system to do its job.
Why would we want to interfere with a working immune system?
Click link to see more Fever - Myths Versus Facts from Seattle Childrens Foundation
Looking at the child's behavior is more accurate than any number. Working with the body, not against it, will help the child to recover faster.
Okay, we get it. How do we support a fever?
Keep the child in a calm environment. Having the support of parents around creates comfort. Keeping yourself calm brings confidence that everything is okay for the child. If you're breastfeeding, on demand nursing is a miracle. Skin to skin helps regulate temperature. Having a calm temperament so baby can feel/hear your pulse soothes and helps regulate the child.
When infant temperatures were below 36.9° C (98.42°F) breast temperatures were rising; when infant temperatures reached 36.9°C (98.42°F) or higher, breast temperatures started to drop, leading us to speculate that breast temperatures may regulate infant body temperatures.
“the neonate is at thermal comfort at approximately the same temperature as his/her mother” (Le Blanc, 1991).
Besides skin-to-skin, not taking fever suppressors, and breastfeeding, what else can I do?
--keeping the child warm is a must--
Say no to cold baths and cold drinks. The child needs support, not to suppress the heat that is helping the body get rid of the toxin. A warm bath with chamomile and magnesium flakes is very beneficial, but once the child is ready to get out of the warm water, be sure to keep them from cold drafts. Shocking the body to a colder external temperature causes the body to raise its own temperature.
WARMTH: Keeping the child in natural fabrics will allow the body to breath properly especially during the sweating mechanism. Look for 100% cotton or wool. Wool is wonderful for helping the body to feel most comfortable. It works best with moisture control and keeps the body from feeling too warm.
HYDRATION: Staying hydrated is key to not get dehydrated and ending up in the hospital. But, what is used is so important. If your child is running a fever, he will need additional fluids to replace those he is losing by sweating, urinating, bowels, and vomiting. Fluids that are easy to digest, that provide electrolytes and have nutritional value are best.
Our favorites fluids for supporting a fever are; filtered water with a pinch of sea salt and magnesium bicarbonate (for the electrolytes), raw milk with maple syrup or honey, bone broth for electrolytes, and gelatin to settle queasy stomachs.
TEAS and SUGAR
Homemade warm herbal teas using yarrow, echinacea, chamomile, lavender, lemon balm, catnip and elderberry can really help support the body. Remember, added sugar helps aid the body in recovery as every cell depends on glucose to function properly. Use what you have whether it's honey, maple syrup, or just plain ol' sugar itself. Use what the little one will actually drink! We will get into why sugar doesn't suppress with the immune system another day ;)
If you want to give your child something to support the body during this fever, this is what we have found to be more beneficial than fever suppressors:
-Sugar, honey, maple syrup
-Whole food Vitamin C
-Fruit/real fruit juice
-Smoothie (add some ingredients from this list)
*Homeopathic remedies work WITH the body, not against it.
-Apis Belladonna 6c- Fast rise fever
-Ferrum Phosh 6c- Slow rise fever
-Chamomile 30c- for calming
Give one pill of the remedy every 2-3 hours. Once you notice an improvement, space doses further apart, giving the next dose only when symptoms start to return. If there is no improvement at all by three doses, try a different homeopathic.
Vitamin A, Liver, Copper
**Depletion in Vitamin A happens quicker during an inflammatory process, fever, or stress to the body. This is why liver is the best choice, never from an artificial source. Liver also has copper, which protects against certain types of free radicals, and helps us to use oxygen properly for the production of biological energy. It is also necessary for the normal functioning of certain nerve cells. An easy way to consume is to use desiccated liver capsules. Open, put in syringe with breast milk or juice.
Let's sum it up. Together.
Fevers are good. Keep in mind, when children are going through fevers, they are typically going through major changes and will come out the other side having reached a new and awesome milestone!
If you believe in the immune systems ability to fight germs, then you should believe in the body's ability to use heat to fight infection, toxins. If our immune system is fighting, if the fever is fighting, our best action is to support the fight. Embrace it, support it, and watch the miracle of life at work.
Now go cuddle with your baby, and stay in tune!