It’s hard to watch when our loved ones suffer from a high temperature. Many have sent emails and asked in my Facebook group, “Should you let a fever run its course in young children?” While we can all agree on plenty of fluids, I’m not quick to use over-the-counter medications to reduce it. Some pediatricians suggest that you let the fever run its course in flu season.
I avoid fear-mongering and try to avoid false beliefs and fever phobia. My family has been able to fight illness faster and prevent recurring infections with my home remedies over the years. So, let’s look at what causes a fever and when to seek medical attention before looking at natural remedies for fever.
[Note: I am not a doctor, nurse, or medical professional and do not play one online. Always check with a doctor or medical professional if a medical need arises.]
Fever is a natural reaction to illness or infection that raises body temperature. Fever is a sign of the body fighting infections. It is normal for the body to raise its temperature. We should allow this natural immune system response to continue in most instances.
Fever can be caused either by a viral or bacterial illness. In rare cases, it can also be caused by heatstroke, poisoning, environmental toxins, or malfunctioning hypothalamus. A simple viral infection can cause fever, which will usually disappear as the body heals. There are some exceptions, but we’ll get to those later.
Is a child too sick to have a fever?
Despite what seems like popular belief, in most cases, a low-grade fever less than 103°F will not cause brain damage, and a fever stemming from an infection will usually not go above this unless other factors (hot environment, etc.) are present.
Many times, people who suffer from brain damage or other symptoms from an illness, are actually suffering from the illness, and not from high fever. The Natural Institutes of Health and the U.S. Library of Natural Medicine states a fever less than 107°F is unlikely to cause brain damage or other problems unless accompanied by more severe symptoms. (Although I don’t like letting them go this high and have never had a child’s fever anywhere near this high).
Fevers that are high enough to cause febrile seizure do not necessarily indicate a serious problem. Most febrile seizures pass quickly and don’t cause permanent damage. They aren’t a symptom of epilepsy.
The book is highly recommended. How to Raise a Healthy Child In Spite of Your DoctorFor more information about fever and how to reduce it, click here
If one of my family members has a fever less than 103-104°F that I know is not the result of poisoning, severe bacterial infection, heatstroke, or toxins, I find it best to wait it out. I will still monitor the symptoms and make home remedies to make the person feel better.
This is my personal preference. While I’ve never found temperatures at this point or lower to be harmful, it is always important to do your research and talk to a medical professional if you feel the situation warrants it. In my experience, most fevers from illness hover in the 101-103°F range and are an effective part of the immune system’s response to infection, like making antibodies.
Should You Allow a Fever to Run Its Course?
There are many reasons why it is better to not reduce a fever. Since fever is part of the body’s natural way of fighting illness or infection, reducing the fever can make the illness last longer, as it lets the virus live for a longer time.
Also, most OTC conventional fever treatmentsAntipyretics (also known as antipyretics) can cause more harm than good. Side effects and even organ damage can be caused by medications such as Motrin, Acetaminophen, Tylenol and Tylenol. Tylenol can harm the liver and Advil can cause bleeding in the stomach, especially if taken regularly.
You can also get medications like antipyreticsForeign substances are substances that the body cannot metabolize or filter. This takes energy that the body could be using for fighting the illness.
Although a fever can be uncomfortable, there are ways to comfort the person with fever. It is possible to relieve body aches or other discomforts with the same medication that reduces fever. While certainly, medical intervention and pyretic medicine are absolutely warranted at times, they aren’t my first line of defense for a mild fever or common cold.
What is the best time to take my child to the ER for a fever?
A fever is generally a healthy, natural immune response that should be allowed to run its course. There are exceptions. In these cases, it’s important to seek medical attention and ensure that there isn’t a serious problem. While I let most illnesses run their course in our home, I don’t hesitate to seek medical help immediately if the situation warrants it.
The need to talk to get medical advice quickly in cases like this is one of the many reasons why I’ve used telemedicine services where I can speak with a doctor online quickly. Of course, it doesn’t always replace going to a local doctor or even the emergency room, but it is a helpful first step in evaluating a situation.
When to See the Doctor
These are generally the times I seek medical care for a fever. Still, a parent’s intuition/research and conversation with your healthcare provider are essential for determining when a fever is severe. I seek medical attention when:
- A fever of more than 100.4 is considered to be a fever in children under 3 months. Symptoms that are serious
- A fever of more than 104 degrees? This can indicate a more serious infection or poisoning.
- Fever for more then two consecutive days
- Other symptoms include stiff neck, listlessness, and sensitivity to light.
- The person can’t eat for more then a few hours, or shows signs of dehydration.
- Refusal of drinking water
- Trouble breathing, shortness or other signs of respiratory distress should be sought immediate medical attention.
- The person has been exposed or may have been poisoned with toxins that could have caused the fever.
- My mother’s intuition says there is something more serious going on, even if the child appears fine
I am a mom and not a doctor. The above guidelines are my personal recommendations. You will want to come up with your own together with your doctor’s advice.
Natural Remedies to Fever
While I try to avoid unnecessary over-the-counter medications to treat fever, I’m also not in favor of letting an ill person suffer any more than is necessary. There are many home remedies that can be used to soothe the suffering without the need for medication or drugs. This is how I treat most illnesses.
TIP: You can print this version and keep it in your cabinet with the remedies in case you get sick. Even though I am the one to help a family member when they don’t feel well, I’m often not the best at remembering to do these things when I’m sick. This way, my husband can help me remember to do these things when I’m under the weather.
More from Wellness Mama
What can you do for a sick family member? Are there any natural remedies for fever? Please share them below!
- U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2020). Fever: Medlineplus medical encyclopedia. MedlinePlus.
- Leung, A. K., Hon, K. L., & Leung, T. N. (2018). Febrile seizures: an overview. Drugs in context, 7, 212536.
- Geddes L. (2020). The fever paradox. New scientist (1971)., 246(3277), 39–41.
- Ghanem, C. I., Pérez, M. J., Manautou, J. E., & Mottino, A. D. (2016). Acetaminophen from liver to brain: New insights into drug pharmacological action and toxicity. Pharmacological research, 109, 119–131.
- Kim, M., Lee, E. J., & Lim, K. M. (2021). Ibuprofen Increases the Hepatotoxicity of Ethanol through Potentiating Oxidative Stress. Biomolecules & therapeutics, 29(2), 205–210.