Fever in itself is not a disease, but a meaningful self-healing attempt of the immune system. Fever is important and helps a sick child to get well again. In most cases, the mobilization of the body’s defenses is a reaction to harmful pathogens. In 90 percent of cases, it is bacteria or viruses that cause the body temperature in children to rise, thus helping to restore balanced health.
The most common reasons for the rise in body temperature in children are:
In about 10 percent of cases, severe infections such as pneumonia or meningitis cause the temperature to rise. Rarely chronic diseases such as rheumatism, leukemia o.a. behind it.
Children in particular often have fevers in connection with emotional stress and it is not uncommon to find no cause at all. The good news: feverish illnesses in children are almost always without complications.
When is it fever?
The body temperature in children is on average higher than in adults. Temperatures above 38°C are not uncommon, especially in the evening and after physical exertion. The indicated degree numbers refer to the temperature measurement in the ear (auricular) or in the anus (rectal).
36.5 to 37.5°C
With children means: everything in order – no fever! The temperature may rise in the evening and/or when the child is under physical or emotional stress.
37.5 to 38.5°C
Means slight increase in temperature or subfebrile temperature. In this phase, special care and attention is required for the child. Bed rest or a quieter occupation at home are desirable here. Most children "use" this slight rise in temperature to be the center of attention again and it is good for them if parents take these signals to heart.
It is best to use the time together for cuddling, reading aloud, telling stories and resting. Please do not consume media during this phase, so as not to overload the central nervous system in the brain and spinal cord. Do not dress your feverish child too thickly; the body must have the possibility to give off heat to the outside. Offer your child something to drink (water, tea) about every half hour and check their temperature two to three times a day.
38.5 to 40.0°C
Indicates a clear fever. Here, as a parent, you should be at home with the child in any case. Absolute bed rest is required. Offer something to drink (water, tea) about every half hour. Offer the child easily digestible foods and tolerate if he or she only wants to drink and not eat. Check the temperature several times a day. If the child is severely affected, you should notify your doctor or alternative practitioner.
High to very high fever; it goes without saying that children are given the greatest possible protection here at home. If the fever quickly rises above 40.5°C and/or fluctuates up or down by more than 1.5°C within a few hours and/or if there is pain in addition to the fever, you should call your doctor or alternative practitioner or visit a clinic.
Correctly measure fever
Where to measure fever?
Taking a temperature in the ear (auricular)
Normal temperature: up to 37.5°C
(diurnal variation: 35.8-38.0°C)
The eardrum is the ideal place for temperature measurement, because it is supplied by the same blood vessels as the hypothalamus, the temperature control center of the human body. Taking a temperature in the ear using an infrared sensor is the most reliable, fastest and gentlest method and therefore the method of choice, especially for children. The measurement result is available after a few seconds.
However, the accuracy depends on whether the optical measuring system can accurately detect the infrared radiation of the eardrum. To do this, the odd ear canal must be stretched by gently pulling on the upper auricle. Parents may want to ask their pediatrician to show them this procedure. If only the auditory canal is measured, the temperature can be up to 1°C below the actual body temperature. Measurement in the ear is not suitable for ear infections and for newborns. Measurement is not easy with very active, restless infants.
It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions exactly, as the values can fluctuate considerably if the measurement method is not entirely correct.
The Braun ThermoScan 5 is the clinical thermometer most frequently used and recommended by doctors. The probe of this thermometer can also be used with small children for safe temperature measurement, since it does not have to be inserted completely into the ear canal for a precise measurement. It measures temperature accurately, quickly and easily.
If in doubt, you can initially also measure in the ear and rectally and compare the values to be on the safe side.
How to measure fever in the anus (rectally)?
Normal temperature: up to 37.5°C
(diurnal variations: 36.6-38.0°C)
In children, rectal measurement provides reliable results. However, the procedure of rectal fever taking is somewhat cumbersome. Infants and toddlers lie on their backs and one hand gently holds the bent legs by the thighs, the other hand holds the thermometer like a spoon and rests the outside of the little finger on the child’s bottom. To prevent possible rectal trauma or injury during insertion, the clinical thermometer should not be inserted more than 1-2 cm in young children. A lubricant should be used to facilitate insertion.
If inflammation is suspected in the abdomen, e.g.B. Appendicitis, is additionally measured in the mouth. If the temperature difference between rectal and oral measurement is more than the physiological 0.5°C, an inflammation in the abdomen is probable.
Measuring fever by mouth (orally)
Normal temperature: up to 37.0°C
(diurnal variations: 35.5-37.5°C)
The orally measured temperature is approx. 0.5°C below the temperature measured rectally. This method is not suitable for infants and young children up to 4 years of age.
How to measure fever under the armpit (axillary)
Normal temperature: up to 36.5°C
(diurnal variation: 34.7-37.3°C)
Taking the temperature in the armpit alone is unreliable.
From how much fever to the doctor / to the hospital?
- For newborns who have a fever above 38.0°C for a few hours
- When child does not drink, looks bad and becomes less responsive
- If the fever rises quickly above 40.5°C
- If the fever fluctuates up or down by more than 1.5°C within a few hours
- If there is pain in addition to the fever
- When there is pronounced nasal wing breathing and a greatly increased respiratory rate
- In case of a seizure
Fever – what helps?
- Supply sufficient liquid
- Provide plenty of fresh air, but avoid drafts
- Do not dress too warmly
- Always rest at home when feverish
- Provide a calm, secure atmosphere
- Do not use electronic media
Homeopathy for fever
Fever suppositories for infants and (small) children (homeopathic)
In acute febrile illnesses; gently reduce the fever and strengthen the body’s defenses. Also good for infants.
Infludoron – homeopathic complex remedy for fever and colds
In the case of febrile colds from infancy onwards. If the globules are taken at the first signs, the outbreak of a cold can at best be prevented or mitigated. If the cold has already broken out, the combination of the homeopathic plant extracts of aconite, eucalyptus, fence beet and water astragalus with the potentized iron phosphate supports the self-healing powers.
The following is a description of the 5 most common homeopathic remedies for febrile children. Give 3 globules of each in the morning and evening for 3 days. If the symptoms do not improve, or even worsen, you should consult a homeopathic physician or alternative practitioner:
Aconitum C30 globules
Sudden onset of fever or chills; especially after exposure to cold, wind or fright; usually begins at night during sleep; dry heat without perspiration; great agitation and restlessness, sometimes also with fear and anxiety.
Belladonna C30 globules
Sudden high fever without frost; begins in the afternoon around 3 p.m. or at night around 11 p.m.; face and body are burning hot, but hands and feet are ice cold; usually with much sweating; often with streptococcal infections and with headache; twitching through the whole body; children fantasize in fever; shining eyes with dilated pupils.
Chamomilla C30 globules
For teething infants who are very cranky, agitated and irritable; often one cheek is red and hot and the other pale; the child wants to be held and carried and yet is ill-tempered about it – you can’t please it.
Ferrum phosphoricum C30 globules
When clear signs are absent in fever and there are virtually no pronounced symptoms other than heat; also works well when teething is reason for fever.
Gelsemium C30 globules
Fever with pronounced weakness and shakiness; the child is sleepy and weak, the eyelids are heavy and drooping and the head can hardly be held upright.
What do the best homeopathic remedies help when they are not at hand during the night or when traveling? A homeopathic medicine cabinet can provide help for many years without side effects:
Homeopathic medicine cabinet with 30 different remedies as C30 globules
With this you are well supplied with the common homeopathic remedies for fever and colds. Also indispensable when traveling.
Other important helpers for earache, cough, cold and to strengthen the immune system – compile a small naturopathic medicine cabinet:
Otidoron ear drops, Fa. Weleda
In case of earache, drip 2-3 drops into the ear canal warm from the hand.
Bronchial balm, Fa. Weleda
Rub it on the chest and back when coughing.
Nasal balm for children, Fa. Wala
Moistens the mucous membranes, clears the nose and thus ensures undisturbed sleep.
Sea buckthorn elixir, Fa. Weleda
A true "vitamin C bomb" for a natural and tasty boost to the immune system. Sea buckthorn berries are especially rich in vitamin C and other valuable vitamins and antioxidants (vitamin A, beta-carotene and flavonoids). Sweetened with sugar and honey, children also love it pure or in lukewarm tea.
Calf wrap for fever
- For children 6 months and older with high fever and restlessness
- Never when feet or legs are cold; if limbs are cool, especially calves, fever can be expected to continue to rise. In this case, rather make a wash with lemon water (s. below)
- Water not too cold, but ca. 2 degrees below the measured body temperature
- After an hour, fever should drop by 1°C
- Cancel when the feet get cold
Fill a bowl with warm water and add the juice of one lemon or 1/2 glass of fruit vinegar to it. Dip two cotton or linen cloths in it, wring them out so that they stop dripping, and wrap one cloth around each calf from ankle to high knee. Then wrap the legs in a dry towel and let the wrap work for about 10 minutes. Change the wipes after 10 minutes – if necessary. earlier, when cloths have become warm. You can repeat the application three to four more times with a half hour interval if needed.
Washes with lemon water for fever
- For cool arms and legs during fever
- Suitable for children from 3 months
- Water temperature ca. 2 degrees below the measured body temperature
Dilute the juice of an unsprayed lemon with 1 to 2 liters of warm water. Score the peel of the lemon with a kitchen knife and put the peel in the water, so that the lemon oil can escape. Use it to gently wash the child from head to toe, dry every part of the body immediately, and then cover the child up right away.
- Have lime blossoms, elder blossoms and chamomile blossoms mixed in equal proportions of 30 grams each
- Pour a teaspoon of it with hot water in a cup, let it steep for 5 to 10 minutes and then pour it off
Sweeten the tea with a teaspoon of Manuka honey, which is rich in active ingredients that act as a natural antibiotic and thus specifically support the body’s own defenses. A useful side effect of this is the sugar contained in honey, which at the same time quickly provides the necessary energy to get back on your feet:
Watson& Son Manuka honey MGO 100+
Each batch of this honey is tested for methylglyoxal content by an independent IANZ (International Accreditation NZ) accredited laboratory in New Zealand. Methylglyoxal (MGO) is the proven antibacterial agent in Manuka Honey.
Should you reduce fever?
As a rule, the fever can easily be kept between 39 and 40°C, which is well tolerated by most children. This temperature is also the optimum fever temperature, at which the viruses or bacteria that cause the disease can best be fought. Viruses and bacteria multiply most at a temperature of 33 to 35°C, i.e. under temperature.
For example, a flu virus multiplies well at 35°C, poorly at 37°C and not at all at 40°C. This gives the term "cold" a double meaning. A decrease in body temperature by one tenth causes viruses to multiply by a factor of two. This means that the dangerousness of viruses depends not only on their strain, but also on the body temperature. Accordingly, the lower the body temperature, the greater it is.
In this context, it is obvious that the routine lowering of fever with fever juices or fever suppositories, z.B. with the active ingredients paracetamol and ibuprofen, can be very disadvantageous. It is better to guide the fever in its natural course within individually reasonable limits, sensibly.
Never reduce fever in children with acetylsalicylic acid (ASA)-containing medicines (z.B. Aspirin). Acetylsalicylic acid in febrile children can significantly increase the smog risk. Trigger Reye syndrome, which is fatal in up to 25 percent of cases.
Fever should be kept at a steady level, instead of provoking excessive temperature fluctuations, which unnecessarily stress the cardiovascular system. Other bodily functions, such as eating, digesting, concentration, interest in the environment and playing, are reduced during fever.
Disadvantages of fever reduction
- Interruption of the body’s own defense system
- Increase in the complication rate of many infectious diseases, e.g.B. Measles and blood poisoning
- Measurable restriction of kidney function
- Increase in allergic diseases
- Increase in the risk of cancer (e.B. the risk of cancer decreases significantly in people who have had rubella, measles and chickenpox)
- Shift in disease tendency from hot, inflammatory to cold, sclerotic conditions.
The effect of fever can be compared to good pedagogy, which allows the child to learn something on its own with effort, which then strengthens it throughout its life. Today we are too quickly inclined to take something away from our children, thus depriving them of the elasticity and exercise they need as experience to master the challenges of life.
For example, one third of children are already deprived of their first triumph in life – often without medical necessity – by a caesarean section. As a result, the immune performance in infancy decreases significantly, because the active immune system in the intestine can only mature insufficiently, if the contact with the physiological vaginal germ colonization, as it is the case with natural delivery, is not possible.
Then infections occur more frequently – and if these are "treated" with antibiotics as well as fever-reducing measures by default, the immune system is further weakened and the early childhood crisis in the form of a defense weakness takes its course.
Fever as protection
Today’s diseases of civilization are almost always cold, chronic diseases in people who have not had a fever for decades. This is clearly seen in the increase in cancer, which is effectively countered in therapy with the methods of hyperthermia. Conversely, chronic diseases such as neurodermatitis or allergies such as hay fever or allergic asthma, as the most common chronic complaint in childhood, often run a milder course after high-fever infections.
Sense of fever
In anthroposophic medicine, fever is considered to play a very important role in the development of adolescents. Warmth is a specific carrier of the ego organization. If the need and willingness of the ego/self to penetrate the metabolism is great, fever occurs. In young children, this need is naturally pronounced, because the entire organism still needs to be discovered, awakened and transformed by the individual ego forces, and so the child tends to fever more easily than adults do. children are from conception own beings, coming through but not from parents. Feverish childhood illnesses are necessary to pave the way to one’s individuality.
This phenomenon refers to convulsions that occur in early childhood from the first to the fifth year of life on the occasion of febrile illnesses, without the presence of an inflammatory change in the brain. The immature infant brain is much more sensitive to temperature changes than later on. Apparently, fever further lowers the seizure threshold, which is already low in childhood. Experience shows that such a seizure occurs after an initial, steep rise in fever.
After a rapid rise in temperature, the child suddenly loses consciousness. lips may turn bluish, arms and legs may stiffen and twitch convulsively. It is not uncommon for children to vomit and roll their eyes during an attack.
Is a febrile seizure fatal?
For parents, this is a frightening event and the fear that the child could die is great. Fortunately, however, there is no danger to life in such a generalized seizure. Please still call the emergency doctor.
Febrile seizures in children
Febrile seizure is not a rare occurrence in the first years of life. 2-4 percent of all children are affected. After the first seizure, one in three children has another seizure within the next two years. After the age of five, febrile convulsions usually no longer occur. The febrile seizure with unconsciousness up to 5 minutes and sometimes bluish skin coloration usually appears much more dangerous than it really is.
Only 2 percent of all children who have had a febrile seizure once are the first symptom of a later recurrent seizure disorder. Long-term studies have shown that children with febrile convulsions have an excellent long-term prognosis. Febrile convulsions are not a precursor to epilepsy. Even repeated febrile convulsions never leave neurological or mental damage and are not a cause of increased mortality.
From when febrile seizure?
Signs of complicated febrile seizure (ca. 30 percent of cases), in which hospitalization and further examinations are necessary:
- Body temperature< 38,5°C
- The affected child is younger than 6 months or older than four years of age
- Seizure duration of over 15 minutes
- Frequent seizures during a febrile illness
- Neurological deficits after the convulsion
- Striking changes in the EEG, still persisting after 14 days. An EEG as a diagnostic measure is not useful until 14 days after the first febrile seizure. By then, the initial changes should have receded.
What to do in case of febrile seizure?
- Call an emergency doctor
- Remain calm
- Do not hold the child by force
- Don’t put anything between the child’s teeth because it can be swallowed
- Establish stable side position in case the child vomits
- Cool forehead with a damp washcloth
- Put pillow under the head
Treatment of repeated febrile convulsions
- Dress appropriately warm enough to avoid excessive temperature fluctuations
- Homeopathic constitutional treatment, which reduces excessive reactions
Here I will gladly support you as your alternative practitioner and homeopath in Munich.
Markus Breitenberger is a non-medical practitioner and homeopath and has treated febrile children for more than 20 years in his own practice and in the homeopathic emergency service. In addition, he is the author of numerous medical articles.