I shared an article on my Facebook page a few days ago which talks about how we are slowly damaging our children’s immune systems by over-treating fevers.
It occurred to me afterwards that when sharing information like that, it is worth talking about the fact that parents following a ‘natural immunity’ lifestyle for their children do anything but sit by idly while their children suffer. On the contrary. And I feel it is important to outline exactly what I mean by this, and talk about the steps these parents take, because I’m worried that a mum will come along who says, ‘Well, I decided to not treat the fever and we ended up in hospital.’ The point is, by taking the right steps to build your child’s immunity naturally, no one need end up in hospital, but this is a 365-day task, something you work at year-round, not just on the day of the fever.
Parents who choose to adopt the ‘natural immunity’ lifestyle, whereby children’s immune systems are given the chance to mature naturally, without toxins or suppressants, spend every single day of every single year working on the quality of their child’s immune system. It is, as I mentioned, a lifestyle, one that dictates pretty much every single choice we make on a daily basis, from where we buy our food and what food we give our children, to where we go out, how long we breastfeed for and even how we speak to our children. Yes, even that last one plays a part, because cortisol levels have an effect on the immune system, so a stressed child, one who is shouted at a lot, will, in most cases, have a weaker constitution.
These parents have also decided to let go of the fear of fevers, the fear taught to us by every healthcare professional we have probably ever encountered. Fear that began in a time when people’s diets and surroundings were most certainly not conducive to fighting a fever, warranting the fear behind it. But we no longer live in filthy tenement buildings or straw huts amongst the rats and fleas, with no indoor plumbing; we have the choice in this day and age (assuming the person reading this is living in a place with modern sanitation and hygiene in place) in how we would like to allow fever to affect the body.
So what happens when we suppress a fever? When we give a child Paracetamol to bring down a fever before it has peaked, we are essentially stopping the immune system in its attempt to get to a high enough temperature to be able to burn off the infection. When we do this, we have suppressed the toxins back into the body. In most cases, we will notice that the child will seem a little better (while the medication suppresses), then go downhill again, with the symptoms persisting, and this can go on for days or even weeks, because the infection is desperately trying to get out of the body and the body knew how to expel it, but with all our modern fear of fevers, we have not allowed it to do what it needed to do. If we allow the body to react to a fever naturally, we are allowing the body to expel the virus, clearing the body of the infection and the toxins that come with it and allowing natural health to be restored quicker – exactly what the body is trying so hard to do. And would our bodies be trying to do that if it wasn’t the right thing to do? Mother Nature is very clever. We should give her some credit.
Yes, the fever may take longer to go down this way, perhaps forty-eight hours, but it is only our fear of fevers that makes that a problem. Of course, the child’s discomfort is paramount to us because none of us want to see our children suffering, but is it better to let them suffer for forty-eight hours or for two weeks? To suppress toxins in their bodies that will have long-term effects, or be rid of the naturally occurring illness in a few days? I’m sure most people reading this can attest to trying to treat their child, only to still be dealing with the same symptoms (and perhaps some new ones) two weeks later.
There are also many things we can do during the fever to help the child.
Nursing a child supportively through acute illness means:
- Keeping a close eye; how are they reacting?
- Keeping them cool but not cold; thin, loose, cotton clothing
- Ensuring a window is kept open to keep fresh air circulating
- Tepid baths if fever gets that little bit too high
- Treating with homeopathic remedies if need be
- Plenty of clear fluids, including homemade bone broth
- Manuka honey and / or fresh ginger in chamomile tea, turmeric milk (non dairy)
- Allowing the body to process the infection easier by not forcing food on the child. Food only complicates the process until the fever has broken
- Breastfeeding, if possible
- Skin on skin
- Increasing vitamins C & D and increasing dosages of things like probiotics and elderberry syrup
- Burning essential oils that encourage the immune system to heal and others that are anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal.
- Absolutely no sugar
- The body needs rest to heal
- Not panicking. Fever is the body’s way of dealing with infection. We live in warm, safe, sanitary houses. The fear of fevers that accompanied wars and famines was justified. Their bodies did not have the means to heal then, so yes, fever was dangerous. But in the situations that most of us live in now, they are not.
For parents following the ‘natural immunity’ lifestyle, not only would they have followed these measures, but they would have spent every day of the year leading up to this, when the child was well, strengthening that child’s immune system through breastfeeding, organic food, nothing processed, no sugar, dairy or gluten, pretty much everything homemade, through supplements and vitamins, through green juices, through conscious limited exposure to toxicity from the kind of food they eat to the bath-wash and toothpaste and creams they use, to vaccines, and of course the emotional way in which they parent.
Treating a child without giving them medicines to suppress their symptoms does not mean doing nothing. It means supporting the body’s processes of elimination. This will allow the liver—the major detoxifier—and kidneys and lungs to work efficiently.
So for a parent who just decides to not treat a fever on one particular day, ends up with her child in A&E, then offers the age-old line, ‘See, that’s what happens when you don’t give Calpol for a fever,’ perhaps a look at the backstory is always a good idea.
Whenever a child has died of a childhood illness and the media parade the story around relentlessly, any attempts at finding out the circumstances of the case, the prior state of health of the child, details about their treatment before or after reaching the hospital are met with absolute silence. The idea promotes fear not understanding. A look at the backstory usually shows low immunity, bad diet and lifestyle not conducive to fighting fever.
You cannot plant a seed and expect a flower or herb to grow perfectly. That seed needs the right soil, the optimum amount of sunlight and water, the exact right amount of nurturing. The same goes for children.
And I have seen this with people who decide, upon a whim, not to vaccinate. The parent’s heart is in the right place, but they have not done the groundwork necessary to make this kind of decision. Inevitably, the child gets ill and everyone blames it on the child not being vaccinated. It is not simply down to lack of vaccine. It is down to ill general health. There is ALWAYS a backstory. 99% of non-vax parents have done more research on vaccines than most medical students will ever do (unless they go into the field of immunology or something directly connected to vaccines.) This means that they are aware of their responsibilities as a parent of an unvaccinated child, on their child and on others. It means their entire lifestyle is geared towards strengthening their child’s immune system, that they are educated on how to spot signs and symptoms of certain illnesses, that they could tell the difference between measles and rubella, between croup and whooping cough, and that they are fully aware of how to limit that child’s exposure to other people while she is infectious. They are responsible. Their actions are those of a responsible parent. Can all parents who choose the opposite lifestyle claim to have done as much research? Responsible also means knowing how to support a child supportively through fever, and knowing how to spot if it did get to the point of being dangerous. It rarely does, but they would be responsible enough to know, and deal with it accordingly.
If the child of a parent who decided not to vaccinate on a whim, or because they kind of felt it wasn’t right but hadn’t really done much research, does get sick, we should look at the backstory, at what measures were taken to ensure safety for that child. If no measures were taken but she simply wasn’t vaccinated, it isn’t down to the lack of vaccine, it is down to the lack of action on the parents’ part.
Once again this is about taking our healthcare—and that of our children—into our own hands. How can we expect our children to stay healthy if we are complacent about their health? Our children are our own responsibility. Not the government’s, not the GP’s, not the school’s. Ours. Our children are our responsibility and their health, IE prevention of illness, should be part of our daily routine, convenient or not.
If, during a fever, a parent has taken all or most of the measures on the above list, and has kept a child healthy year-round, it is highly unlikely they will end up in hospital with the child. And if they do, they should not be blaming it solely on the fact that the child wasn’t given Calpol.
In the same way that we take responsibility for most of our other actions, our children’s health, in many cases (of course, not in all), is a direct result of our actions. Being proactive in their general health year-round, will ensure a healthy recovery from acute illness.
Let’s try and remember this before blaming lack of paracetamol for a child’s ill-health.
Love & health,
It should be noted that this information refers to generally healthy children, not those with auto-immune or other issues.
For more information on how to nurse a child supportively through acute illness, please download Dr Jayne Donegan’s booklet here.