Fevers are our friends

Read this before using Tylenol or Motrin for your child's fever.  It could be causing more harm than good!

It’s kind of a nightmare when I realize my kids are getting sick.  I mentally let go of any hope of exercising, sleeping or even leaving the house.  My toddler is extremely healthy – he has only been sick two times in 18 months, once with 6th disease (not as bad as it sounds, we didn’t even go to the doctor) and once with a cold.  Until this past week.

Fevers in kids are scary.  Once the temperature approaches 103 I feel like I should be sitting there watching them with my finger on speed dial to 9-1-1.  Then I remember the saying “Fevers are our Friend” and talk myself off the crazy lady ledge.  From Dr. Sear’s website:

Are fevers dangerous? No. Many parents have a misconception that fevers are a bad thing and a sign that there is some serious underlying illness. This simply is not true. Fever is a normal and healthy response of the body to an illness. The body’s immune system releases chemicals that raise the body temperature. This is part of the normal infection-fighting process.

Even Hippocrates, the ‘Father of Modern Medicine’, wrote, “Give me a fever and I can cure any ailment.”  A fever is the body’s extremely effective way of ridding infection to return to a well state.  I am a firm believer in the intelligence of the human body.  I believe we are perfect by design and the less interference the body has, the more capable it is of running the way it has been designed to do.  While the “Fevers are our Friend” concept has been hard to swallow, it is a necessary one.  Many doctors recommend giving a child Tylenol or Motrin like it is no big deal.  Not only does this interfere with the body healing itself by quelling the fever, studies have confirmed an increase in asthma among children given acetaminophen (Tylenol) in the first year of their life.  (Source) This is because of the gut or liver damage which is caused by this type of over-the-counter medications.  (Source)  If asthma runs in your family, you should definitely take this into consideration when caring for your sick child.

Thankfully, I was able to avoid fever and pain reducers thus far by employing essential oils and homeopathic remedies.  Until last week!  My youngest is eighteen months.  He was acting cranky on a hot day last week.  I knew he was feeling warm, but we had been out in the sun for an hour so I thought that might be the cause.  I put him down for a nap around 4 p.m.  and he woke an hour later.  He was extremely hot and shaking in his arms.  The shaking is what scared me!  I don’t think it was a febrile seizure, but scary nonetheless.  I took his temperature while he ate a homemade juice popsicle.  (I love these things!)  His temperature was 103.5 degrees, which is in the safe range, but he was shaking so much I felt I had to get his fever down a little.  I ended up giving him a little ibuprofen (Motrin) for the first time ever, along with a lukewarm bath.  This reduced his fever to the 101 range, which I was fine with.   His fever spiked again through the night to over 104 degrees with more shaking, and so I gave him Motrin a second time.  My thoughts were if it got over 105 I would be calling an ambulance (my husband was of course at work that night) and I definitely did not want it to get to the point of dragging my older son along in the middle of the night.

While I have avoided using pain or fever reducers in the past, it was the shaking that prompted me to give him Motrin.  Did I over-react?  Possibly!  According to the National Institute of Health:

Brain damage from a fever generally will not occur unless the fever is over 107.6 °F (42 °C). Untreated fevers caused by infection will seldom go over 105 °F unless the child is overdressed or trapped in a hot place.

Febrile seizures do occur in some children. However, most febrile seizures are over quickly, do not mean your child has epilepsy, and do not cause any permanent harm.

I was raised with Tylenol or Motrin when we really needed it and I have always thought a 103 temperature was really high.  Further, I have never seen my kids shake from a fever, so I admit I acted out of worry.  I really don’t know what would have happened if I did not bring his fever down a little bit, and it is scary to take chances with a small child.  There have been cases of children with extremely high temperatures suffering permanent hearing loss.  While I always try to avoid using fever and pain reducers, I will always keep a bottle on hand for emergencies.

If I wasn’t so worried about my son shaking from his fever, I would have followed a natural fever protocol:

  • Peppermint oil on the feet.  Peppermint has a cooling feeling when applied topically.   **Update – A friend brought it to my attention that peppermint oil can cause respiratory distress in young children, so please exercise extreme caution to never apply on their face or chest.  Many sources recommend to never use peppermint oil on children under six, and NEVER, EVER apply undiluted.  Essential oils are very potent and effective and great care and caution must be exercised, especially with children.  
  •  Fluids.  Make sure your child is getting plenty to drink.  A high temperature will deplete water from the cells.  Water, tea or coconut water are great choices to sip on and will prevent dehydration.  Bone broth is another great choice to keep your child hydrated.  A popsicle will also work, and probably raise your child’s spirits which can go a long way in healing.
  • Help your child feel comfortable.  Follow your child’s lead if they are old enough to communicate with you.  Make sure they are covered if they are shivering, or uncovered if they are too hot.  Extra snuggles are great medicine too!
  • Cool rag on the head.  This helps cool the child off externally and feel more comfortable.
  • Ferrum Phos #4 Cell Salt.  This carries oxygen to the cells.  It is useful in the early onset of a fever.  Follow the dosage instructions on the bottle.


What is your fever protocol?  Let me know in the comments below!

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4 thoughts on “Fevers are our friends

  1. Hey! I’ve always read and been told that Peppermint wasn’t good to use on Littles (as old as 6) because it can cause respiratory interference? Any insight? The Quick reference says to use aromatically, so I always diffuse or have them smell it off my hands, but I’m wondering what information you have and if I should amend my protocol.


    • Hi Allison! Thank you for leaving this comment, because I did not say diluted in my post which is very important with a strong oil like peppermint. They call it a warming oil, and it can cause intense sensation on the skin, almost burning, when applied neat to a sensitive area. You are correct that it is not advised to use Peppermint Oil on children under six years of age, and must be used with extra dilution for children six and up, on the bottom of their feet only.
      I had not previously read about the respiratory issues peppermint can cause but it makes sense because it is so strong. I have read that someone put it in their bath water and almost got hypothermia and so I have never put it anywhere but on their feet. It has always been okay for us, but I agree with you that we should be careful. If it is a baby I would not use it! I don’t think I will be using it on my toddler anymore.
      Has it been helpful diffused?


  2. Pingback: Essential Oil Safety – Topical Use | Mommy Lives Clean

  3. Pingback: Trust Your Mommy Brain | Mommy Lives Clean

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