The first thing to remember when your child is running a childhood fever is that the fever is not the problem, but rather the body’s way of handling a viral or bacterial infection in the body.
Childhood fever can be intense experiences for child and parent alike. I speak from experience here, since Hailey has had three high fevers since her birth one year ago. She gets up past 104 degrees, which seems very high to me, especially when I compare it to my own fever temperatures that typically don’t go past 102 degrees.
Childhood Fever: Causes and Concerns
Our body temperature goes up as a way of killing the virus or bacteria that is causing sickness. Children often do get higher fevers than adults, and the character of the childhood fever will be different depending on the sickness.
Viral childhood fever often spikes to high temperatures and then come back down, only to spike up again later.
Bacterial illnesses are more likely to cause a fever that goes up and stays up for a while before breaking and returning to normal.
The danger of high childhood fever comes with convulsions. If the convulsions last more the 10 minutes or recur, they can cause the oxygen supply to the brain to be cut off for too long and lead to brain damage.
If your child has a high fever, watch their behavior to decide if medical assistance is needed. And if the temperature goes over 104 degrees or your child becomes vague and confused, or loses consciousness call your doctor.
Also, if the child seems hot on one side of the body yet cold on the other or if she starts to twitch, it’s important to call a doctor.
So, last week, Hailey was running a temperature of just over 104 degrees in the middle of the night and I was concerned, primarily because I had heard that high fevers can lead to brain damage.
I was relieved to learn that it is the convulsions that accompany high childhood fever that are the main concern, rather than the high temperatures themselves.
I did get into communication with our naturopath when the fever got so high and we determined the cause to be an ear infection.
And I learned that a common pattern with ear infections is for the fevers to spike high and night and then come down during the day. My doctor let me know that it was okay for Hailey to stay at 104.5 for 5 or 6 hours, but advised me to bring the fever down if it went beyond 104.5 or stayed up for more than 6 hours.
Bringing Childhood Fever Down
So, how do we bring childhood fever down in our family? That’s the routine I want to share with you here.
First we bathe the child in a tepid bath or dilute yarrow (Achillea millefolium) tea. (Drinking the tea can also work, but it’s fairly bitter for children.) So, if our children are showing signs of a fever in the evening, we’ll often put some yarrow tea on to steep before going to bed, so it will be nice and strong if we need it in the middle of the night.
After the yarrow tea bath, we dry and dress the baby again and then dunk socks and rags in a solution of apple cider vinegar and water (1 tablespoon vinegar to 1 cup water).
The socks go on the baby’s feet and the rags we wrap around her wrists. This method seems to effectively reduce the fever by a degree within minutes. You can repeat this with the same effect a short time later to reduce the fever even further.
Depending on the type of fever, belladonna homeopathic given every half hour can be an effective remedy. For Hailey’s most recent fever, our doctor recommended belladonna alternating with pulsatilla every half hour.
You might check with a homeopathic physician for the remedy for fever childhood that will work best for your child’s fever. We find homeopathic medicine to be amazingly effective, and a very safe way to treat children’s illnesses.
Elderflower (Sambucus nigra) tea is also another good remedy for childhood fever. Steep 2 teaspoons of dried elderflowers in 1 cup of hot water for 20 minutes.
Determining the underlying illness is sometimes important in helping your child recover if they are experiencing a high fever. Once we started treating the ear infection, Hailey recovered quickly, and her fever didn’t come back at night.