Fever is a natural defence mechanism that our body uses to fight off viral and bacterial infections. Increasing the body’s temperature allows our immune system to function optimally and makes it difficult for viruses and bacteria to replicate.
In an adult the level of fever generally corresponds to the severity of the illness causing it. This is not necessarily the case in children. In a newborn the body’s temperature control mechanisms are not yet well developed. As a result signs other than fever (poor appetite, lethargy, irritability, nausea and vomiting) may be earlier indicators of an infection than fever.
Often the best treatment for a fever is NOT to decrease the fever (which is performing an important function in fighting off infection), but instead to optimize the fever with herbal diaphoretics. Diaphoretics temporarily raise the body temperature, activate the immune system, encourage sweating (which then brings down body temperature), improve circulation, and minimize the symptoms of colds and influenza including sore muscles, chills, congestion, and sore throat.
Fever often leads to dehydration, which makes tea an especially effective treatment because it will not only help you to manage the fever but it will also supply much-needed hydration.
Very high fevers (generally above 103F/ 39.4oC in an adult, above 102F/ 38.8oC in a child, and above 101F/ 38.3oC in an infant) should be treated with appropriate medications (such as children’s acetaminophen or ibuprofen) to decrease fever while using tea as a supportive treatment. Do not give aspirin to a child with a fever. Aspirin use in children with viral infections has been linked to development of a serious liver disease known as Reye’s syndrome.
In some cases a feverish child may experience a febrile seizure. These occur in a very small percentage of children. They do not appear to be related to the severity of the fever or to the rate at which the temperature rose. About 50% of children to experience one febrile seizure will go on to have another one. If your child has a febrile seizure ensure that you have your child examine by a doctor to rule out any underlying conditions or causes.
There are several herbal teas that can be used safely in children with a fever. These herbs can also be used by adults. Children should be dosed according to their age. One teaspoon every 3-4 hours for children under one year of age, 2 teaspoons every 3-4 hours for children 1-2 years of age and children over 2 years of age can have 1/4 cup every 3-4 hours. Adults can consume one cup every 3-4 hours. [table id=5 /]
Remember – a fever is a sign that the immune system is working. Hydration and herbal teas are often enough to help a child (or adult!) through the symptoms of a fever. Always monitor the fever and use medications when necessary. When in doubt, consult a Naturopathic Doctor or Medical Doctor for help.
The advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only. It is meant to augment and not replace consultation with a licensed health care provider. Consultation with a Naturopathic Doctor or other primary care provider is recommended for anyone suffering from a health problem.