Kids get sick, and they run fevers. But as parents, we can be prone to a bit of fever phobia. Many parents believe that if a fever is not treated with medications, there are high risks of serious side effects. This simply is not true! Treating fever in children doesn’t have to involve Panadol or Nurofen. In fact, there are a number of natural remedies that are far more gentle and supportive.
Watch the video or continue reading below to find out more about treating fever in children with natural remedies.
Why using medication for treating fever in children isn’t ideal
When it comes to treating fever in children, medications are often the first port of call for parents. Many of us have been told that paracetamol and ibuprofen are fairly ‘safe’ options for kids. But unfortunately, it’s not as safe as what we’re told. There can be some fairly serious adverse reactions and health impacts caused by these medications.
Firstly, Panadol is actually the leading cause of liver failure in children. This alone is a good reason to pick and choose when we give it to our kids! Women who take it in pregnancy have a higher risk of having a child with ADHD, hyperactivity and autism. There are also increased risks for other conditions, including asthma and skin reactions. The difference between a safe dose and an overdose is quite slim, particularly for children.
Nurofen comes with its own health risks and implications. The main impact is on the digestive system – it can cause stomach bleeding and ulcers. However, it can also lead to liver damage as well.
This is not even mentioning the additives that go into Panadol for kids! There are added flavours, colours and even artificial sweeteners. So if you do use Panadol with your kids, it’s best to opt for the one that has minimal additives.
This is not to say that using medication is never warranted. But we do want to re-think reaching straight for them if the kids are feeling a little hot or unwell.
How fever actually helps your child
It’s time for us to get comfortable with fever. In itself, fever is not actually an issue. It’s a sign that your child’s body is fighting off an infection. Fever is a natural and completely healthy response.
There are two main ways that fever helps with infections and illness. Firstly, it stops the microbes from reproducing and spreading. Most microbes thrive at body temperature, so by increasing the temperature, the body prevents the spread of infection.
A fever also stimulates the innate immune response. It supports the production of white blood cells that are needed to fight off infection. In fact, letting a fever run its course instead of using medication can reduce both the length and the severity of an illness. By forcing down the fever with medication, you could actually prevent your child from recovering quickly.
What about febrile convulsions?
When it comes to fever, many parents fear febrile convulsions. These are a risk, and they are scary. But they’re generally not dangerous in the long-term. It’s quite rare for a child to experience brain damage or long-term adverse effects from a febrile convulsion. And in fact, research has shown that medications like Panadol and Nurofen don’t reduce the risk of convulsions!
Only 3-4% of kids will experience convulsions. If your child has experienced a convulsion before, there is only a 1 in 3 chance that they will experience another. So if your child has experienced convulsions before, it’s ok to be a bit cautious. But you can incorporate some natural remedies to support your child as well.
Natural options for treating fever in children
In many cases, it’s best to ride a fever out if the temperature is fairly mild – between 38-40 degrees Celcius. It’s also important to not focus too much on the number. Instead, be led by how your child feels and is looking. If they’re in a lot of pain, some Panadol is fine. But you don’t want to reach for it the second that their temperature goes over 38 degrees.
However, there are a few natural options for treating fever in children that you can add to your toolbox.
- Make sure they get plenty of rest! When you give a child medication, they often go from lethargic and unwell to perky and wanting to run around. But this is not the best thing for them to do if they’re sick. It can give them a false sense of wellness, and makes it easy for them to overdo it. A fever might not be pleasant for them, but it does allow them to get the rest they need to get better.
- Keep them well-hydrated. Water is an obvious way to keep hydration levels up, with little sips constantly. Ice is a good option for sore throats – you can make blocks with vitamin C powder for an extra boost. Soups and broths are also very soothing and full of immune-boosting nutrients.
- Don’t force them to eat. The body has limited resources, and when it’s sick, the immune system needs those resources. It’s fine for kids to not each much for a couple of days. If they eat when they’re not hungry, you’re just taking the energy away from the immune system to digest the food. Trust that their body knows best.
- Include some herbal teas. There are a few herbs that can bring a fever down more gently, while also supporting the immune system. Ginger and peppermint are two common herbal teas that you can use. These will soothe the fever and help to keep your child hydrated.
- Add in immune-boosting nutrients where you can. Including foods, drinks or even supplements with nutrients to support the immune system can help. Vitamin C, zinc and vitamin D are a couple of options to consider.
My rule of thumb is to start with these remedies for treating fever in children. If their temperature stays above 40 degrees for several hours or if they’re in a lot of pain, then it might be time to reach for the Panadol.
If your child is getting sick often it can be tricky to work out why. It might be due to immune deficiency, an imbalance in the microbiome or even a nutrient deficiency.
Take the Natural Super Kids Quiz to find out which area of your child’s health needs the most attention.