CHILDRENS PROBLEMS: FEVER

Fever in a child requires a little more attention than it does in an adult because a persisting or very high fever may cause febrile convulsions . Normal body temperature for all ages is around 37°C, or 97.6°F.

Understanding the cause of a fever is a prerequisite to its treatment, but one must remember that fever is a friend. Most bacteria and viruses are inhibited by high temperatures: certain defensive chemical reactions occur in the body at a faster rate in the presence of fever and it is established that the chemicals produced create the fever. Suppressing a fever from within is therefore unwise and one should only attempt to keep the body cool externally without stopping the actual chemical reaction, as this is less likely to hamper the immune system.

Fever may be an early warning for a serious underlying infection. Children old enough to express themselves may give some clues, but infants with a persisting high fever need to be assessed by a physician.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Any persisting, recurrent or very high fever should warrant a medical opinion. Specific treatment against, say, an infection should be initiated either from a complementary or orthodox point of view.

Keep the child in light cotton if sweating or remove clothing if dry.

Apply cold compresses to the neck, stomach and ankles.

It is not advisable to use herbal remedies in children unless you are absolutely certain of the strength and quality. Orthodox preparations such as paracetemol for children should be employed if the temperature rises above 39°C or 101°F. By this stage, however, medical advice should have been sought.

Remember that a fever is generally a friend, whether it is curing or warning, and should be treated as such.

Homeopathic treatment needs to be aimed at the symptoms, and reference to your preferred homeopathic manual is required. Pay specific attention to the remedies Aconite, Arsenicum, Belladonna, Gelsemium and Mercurius.

Rheumatic fever

Rheumatic fever is characterized by pains in the joints, fever and general malaise following a streptococcal infection usually of the throat. The pains in the joints occur because of a reaction (antigen complex reaction) between the bacteria and the body’s defence mechanism.

The body recognizes the infection and sends out antibodies to attack the bacteria (the antigen) and in some cases this triggers an inflammatory response that affects the joints and frequently the heart valves. The complexes can affect the delicate tissues of the kidney, and a sore throat with associated kidney symptoms must be treated as urgent.

The orthodox approach is to use antibiotics at the first sign of a streptococcal sore throat but alternative measures initially may be just as effective. If heart or kidney effects are suspected (associated chest pains, irregular heartbeats or heart sounds) then treatment must be considered as urgent. Prolonged use of penicillin is still considered by many orthodox practitioners to protect against re-infection of damaged heart valves. Antibiotics will also be encouraged if any operative procedure, including dental work, is to be performed.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Sore throats, and streptococcal sore throats in particular, should not be taken lightly and complementary medical treatment should be initiated swiftly. See Sore throats.

If rheumatic fever is confirmed, consult a homeopathic practitioner but initiate the use of the remedy Streptococcin 30 every 4hr.

Commence the child on the following supplements in divided doses throughout the day: vitamin A (l.OOOiu per foot of height) or beta-carotene (2mg per foot of height); vitamin C (500mg per foot of height); vitamin E (150iu per foot of height); and zinc (5mg per foot of height before bed).

Use Echinacea (dried root) 200mg per foot of height. Ensure good hydration, especially if there is any kidney involvement.

At any suggestion of chronic damage to the heart valves (this is diagnosed by a doctor), seek advice from a complementary medical practitioner with regard to homeopathic or herbal cover through adolescence as an alternative to daily use of penicillin. More than two attacks, despite alternative or complementary treatment, warrants the use of prophylactic antibiotics to protect against serious damage and consult a complementary specialist to get advice concerning the side effects of these drugs .

It is very important to note that a child’s size may be dependent upon their genetics, inherited from their parents. A child with small or light parents may not necessarily be underdeveloped and it is important for each individual to be assessed from this point of view. Growth is governed by good nutritional input and also by a variety of hormones. Specifically, growth hormone (from the pituitary gland) thyroxine and insulin levels must all be in balance. Malabsorption or malnutrition will deprive the child of proteins, vitamins, minerals and trace elements, all of which are essential to correct growth.

RECOMMENDATIONS

If worried about developmental failure or if your child does not correspond to the charts, then please consult your GP.

Once serious underlying conditions such as pituitary problems, diabetes, thyroid or malabsorption problems have been ruled out, consider the advice of a nutritionist

The homeopathic remedy Silica, potency 30 twice a day for three weeks (or a higher potency as prescribed by a homeopath), encourages absorption and, therefore, growth in cases of poor nutritional intake.

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