In similar amusing fashion to the former Vice President’s claim that he invented the Internet, researchers in the current issue of the journal Pediatrics have recommended the “novel approach” of letting a fever run its course in otherwise healthy children.
Evidently these doctors are suffering from an extreme case of memory loss or egomania as was the case for Mr. Gore. Either that or they made a practice of napping during their Medical History classes in Med School. More likely, these types of classes weren’t even offered at the request of the pharmaceutical companies donating copious amounts of cash to the particular institution they attended.
After all, we wouldn’t want newly minted doctors knowing anything about the history of effective, non-drug based remedies and treatments, would we?
While it may be claimed that this research is somehow “new” and goes against conventional wisdom, this is simply not so.
Au contraire. Prior to the advent of the American obsession with all things pharmaceutically produced which began to gather momentum in the 1970’s, doctors routinely recommended against treating the fevers of healthy children. My own Father, a retired MD who specialized in Family Practice, never brought down fevers in his own children nor did he suggest doing so to his patients even in cases where the fevers were rather high at 105F.
Why? Because doing so would prolong the illness, of course! Simple common sense medicine for normal, healthy children.
A fever is the primary mechanism for the immune system to fight off viruses and bacteria. Bringing it down handicaps this natural immune response, prolongs the illness and more than likely induces a secondary infection that may require – you guessed it: a visit to the Doc to get a prescription for antibiotics.
Unfortunately, it seems that common sense is something that Pediatricians need a research study to finally embrace.
How to Keep a 24 Hour Bug From Turning into a 2 Week Ordeal
The wisdom of the “leave the fever alone” strategy was driven home to me once again just last week. One of my kids came home from school on Thursday afternoon with a bad headache. Since he rarely complains of anything like this, I figured he was trying to fight off some sort of virus.
Sure enough, within a couple of hours, he spiked a fever to 102-103F. This fever basically held (with a few brief dips to 99-100F after sipping a cup of homemade broth) for 24 hours. Did I treat it with Tylenol or ibuprofin?
No way! He had a big soccer tournament that very weekend and his best chance to still compete was to do nothing!
The fever and headache were the only symptoms he ended up having. They were both gone within 24 hours and he competed in the weekend tournament as planned. He played hard too and in the 88F heat. The kid bounced back fast because his natural immunity was left to operate as Nature intended with no meddling from vitality zapping over the counter meds.
I have no doubt that if I had panicked and brought that fever down justifying my actions in order “to help him get a good night’s sleep for the soccer tournament” that he would still be sick and probably have some sort of secondary infection in his lungs with a lot of mucous and coughing.
Letting the fever run its course is more important than a good night’s sleep for getting well, in my experience! If you absolutely must do something, use homeopathic cell salts or a fever bath to speed the process along.
I am so glad the value of fevers was impressed upon me at a young age. Don’t wait for your Pediatrician to wake up to common sense strategies before adopting them yourself.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Treating Fevers in Children, Dr. Tom Cowan MD