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Learn To Love Fevers, Not Fear Them

by: Lindsay Chimileski

(NaturalNews) One of the biggest misconceptions in health care today is the role of fevers. Through misunderstanding, many parents fear fevers, when they should love and respect them. A fever is one of the most extraordinary and intricate healing processes in the body. It plays out like a symphony, orchestrated only when needed to stimulate an immune response, destroy invading organisms and promote the restoration of health. The American Academy of Pediatrics voiced concerns in a 2011 study, concluding that parents need to understand the fever itself is not endangering to a healthy child. In contrast, it's actually beneficial and the primary goal of treatment should be to improve comfort, rather than lowering body temperature alone.

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Traditionally, fevers were respected and understood. People knew that the fever would build and then break, like a wave rolling into shore. Now, without knowing or understanding the process, most try to suppress it immediately using antipyretics, or substances that lower temperature, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Antipyretics may quickly lower temperature, but in doing so they silence the body, hinder immune system development, allow the invader to survive and potentially induce chronic disease development.

Antipyretics are often misused, incorrectly administered or excessively dosed as well. Fifty percent of parents consider a temperature of less than 100.4°F is a fever and 25% of caregivers administer an antipyretic then, before the temperature actually reaches fever status. More disturbingly, 85% of parents report waking a sleeping child to administer antipyretics. 80% of pediatricians disagree with this practice. The physiologic healing that occurs while sleeping far surpasses the desire to simply lower the fever.

Modern medicine has lead us away from our bodies. Through its symptom-targeted treatments, patients have learned to expect immediate results. This is even more true when loving parents are concerned for their children. Treating symptoms without treating the cause is like taking the batteries out of the fire alarm, while the house burns down. It is essential to teach parents and children to listen and interpret these signs from the body, not just focus on removing of them.

Fever as a friend, not a foe
A fever is defined by an oral temperature exceeding 100.4° F. They are usually self-limiting and short in duration. There is no evidence of fevers worsening the course of the illness or causing long- term neurological complications. It is important to understand, that the fever itself is not a disease, but rather a symptom of an underlying disharmony.

As human beings, we want to stay alive. This is true on all levels. Mentally, physically, physiologically, and biologically, we function to promote life. Once this is understood, it's easy to grasp that a fever is a physiologic process the body uses to fight infection, thus promoting survival or life. When an invader (virus, bacteria etc.) enters the body, signals are sent to the brain to increase the hypothalamic "set point". This essentially turns up the thermostat for a few days to kill the intruder. Signals can come from bacterial toxins or the body's response to the intruder, i.e. the production of cytokines, chemical mediators, macrophages, and antibodies. The temperature increase also enhances the immune system by catalyzing enzymes, increasing neutrophil production and T-lymphocyte proliferation. Inflammation is stimulated to protect the area, prevent the spread of infection and initiate the healing process.

Always consult your naturopathic physician or pediatrician when fevers exceed 102°F or last longer than three days. Also consult if the fever causes great discomfort, breathing difficulty, stiff neck, convulsions or any time you are unsure. Proper hydration and electrolyte replenishment are essential to support the body.

Sources for this article include:

Boyle A, Saine A. Lectures in Naturopathic Hydrotherapy. 1988. Eclectic Medical Publications, Oregon.

Crocetti M, Moghbeli N, Serwint J. Fever Phobia revisited: have parental misconceptions about fever changed in 20 years. Pediatrics. 2001; 107(6)1241-1246

Skowron, J. Pediatrics. University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine. 2012. Bridgeport, CT.

Sullivan J, Farrar H. 2011. Clinical Report- Fever and Anti-pyretic use in children. Pediatrics: From the American Academy of Pediatrics 2001; 127(3), 580-587.

Yale School of Medicine, Yale Medical Group: Fevers.

About the author:
Lindsay Chimileski: I am a graduate medical student currently pursuing dual degrees in Naturopathic Medicine and Acupuncture, expecting to graduate in 2013. I have a passion for health education, patient empowerment and the restoration of balance- both on the individual and communal level. I believe all can learn how to live happily, in harmony with nature and in ways that support the body's innate ability to heal itself.

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