Understanding and Management of Fever

Any time a child is sick, we as parents or caregivers instinctively want to intervene on their behalf. In the case of fever, however, our efforts may be counterproductive. Your child’s ability to generate a fever is an eloquent demonstration of his/her body’s innate self-healing potential. The body essentially heals through increasing body temperature.

Fever is defined as an oral temperature higher than 99.5 degrees F., an axillary (armpit) temperature over 99.0 degrees F., and an ear temperature higher than 99.5 degrees F.

A fever stimulates the body’s immune response in the following ways:

  • Additional white blood cells are manufactured. These cells destroy bacteria and viruses and also remove damaged tissue and irritating materials from the body.
  • The activity of the white blood cells increases, and they move rapidly to the site of the infection.
  • Antibody production increases by as much as 20 fold.
  • You get sleepy and loose your appetite. This conserves energy for natural defense and repair.
  • The elevated body temperature kills bacteria and viruses.
  • Iron and zinc is removed from the blood so that bacterial growth decreases.
Hippocrates said, “Give me a fever and I can cure any disease.” He knew that fever is part of the body’s normal healing response to infection. Fever is a sign the body’s immune system is active and is not in and of itself a disease. Suppressing a fever or any other aspect of the body’s natural defense system is never recommended.