Childhood Illnesses and Fever
All of the common illnesses of childhood are inflammations. “Infection” is the wrong word for them because it suggests that we get sick because germs invade us. This is misleading. We are always exposed to and often harbour germs, yet we only occasionally get sick.
Childhood is a time of most rapid growth and dramatic change. A child will remodel and renew his body many times as he grows. Every remodelling job requires some demolition – a breaking down of part of the inherited body structure in order to rebuild it better. This breaking down of old cells and tissues results in debris, which must be cleaned up before the body rebuilds itself.
It’s the immune system that does the breaking down by creating fever and inflammation to destroy and digest foreign or outworn bodily material. And it’s the immune system that cleans up the digested material and debris by pushing it out of the body. That is why children so often have skin rashes and discharge of mucus or pus because their immune systems are actively working. Debris that remains in the body may act as a poison or may cause allergies or repeated inflammations later on. Germs do not “attack” us, but they often multiply wherever the body’s living substance is dying, breaking down and being discharged. Germs don’t cause illnesses – they feed on them. Every childhood inflammation, every cold, sore throat, earache, fever, and rash is a healing crisis and cleansing process. It’s the body’s way of “cleaning house”.
Homeopathic remedies help and promote this cleansing process and help the illness to work its way out of the body for healing to occur. Antibiotics, aspirin, Tylenol and other anti-inflammatory drugs cool down and suppress the “fire” of the immune system so that the symptoms subside before the illness has fully worked its way out of the body. When inflammation is suppressed in this way and prevented from fully discharging its toxins, then either the inflammation comes back, or else the tendency to allergies and asthma is increased. Recent research has confirmed that antibiotics and vaccinations are a cause of increased allergies and asthma.
Children should always be warmly dressed for the weather. This will increase the body’s ability to handle inflammations. The normal body temperature in a healthy child or adult should be 98.6 F (36.9 C) or slightly higher, but preferably not lower. A sub-normal temperature indicates that not enough warmth is being produced by the body. Viruses and bacteria grow faster when the body temperature is lower and they are destroyed faster when the body’s immune system when the body temperature is higher.
In susceptible children, fever convulsions are caused by a very rapid rise in temperature, often before one is even aware of the fever. They occur from six months to six years of age and they do not cause permanent damage.
Toxicity from certain diseases and certain immunizations may rarely cause brain damage or convulsions in children or adults, regardless of whether the fever is how or low. But fever itself, even at 104 F (39.9 C) or over, will not cause brain damage (in certain cancer treatments, patients are heated to a body temperature of 108 F (42.1 C) for two hours with no brain damage whatsoever). Therefore, when a child has a fever, dress him even more warmly than usual with several layers of cotton or wool.
The body, in its wisdom, wants and needs to be hot in order to burn out the illness. When the fever is rising, we feel chilled and want to get warm under blankets. When the fever breaks and starts to come down, only then do we feel hot, sweaty and throw off the blankets. This is the natural way the immune system burns out the illness and discharges toxins.
If a child or adult with a high fever is very uncomfortable and restless, this is a sign of toxicity. You may rub the arms, legs, and head with a washcloth moistened with tepid water and arnica essence (from the neck to the knees the child should not be undressed). Rub vigorously to make the skin red. This will help to dissipate excess body heat through the skin.
Sometimes an illness may be prolonged because the immune system is not producing enough fever to accomplish its purpose. Therefore, when an illness is lingering and the fever hardly gets much above 99 F (37.1 C) or 100 F (37.7 C), then do a very hot bath for about 20 minutes in the evening, followed by sweating in bed under lots of blankets, then going to sleep without getting up again. This can be repeated every evening until the illness is burned out. Baths are only recommended for young healthy people with strong hearts, not for young children or the elderly.
Allium cepa – for the child with a very runny nose and a great deal of irritating, watery nasal secretions that cause inflammation, as well as teary (but not burning) eyes and a lot of sneezing. This is homeopathic red onion. It is recommended for the child who feels worse than you do when chopping a strong onion.
Arsenicum album (sold sometimes as Metalum album) – for a child who feels chilly, restless and weak. She also has a red nose with runny nasal secretions that burn the nose and upper lip. She might be thirsty but drinks only sips at a time. This child wants to be left alone, but will demand attention and reassurance every once in a while. When she is comforted and cuddled, she will quiet down and go to sleep.
Euphrasia – for a child whose symptoms are the opposite of those calling for Allium cepa. Her nose runs a lot, especially in the morning, but without irritation; she complains of burning eyes and stinging tears, winks frequently, and wipes and rubs her eyes.
Pulsatilla – for a child with a stuffy nose and thick yellow discharge. She could lose her sense of taste and smell. This child feels worse at night and when indoors; she prefers to be outdoors and wants comfort and attention.
Kali bichromicum – for a child with a greenish-yellow, stringy nasal discharge.
When your child has a fever, select the most appropriate-specific homeopathic remedy and begin administering it as soon as possible. You should notice some response within thirty minutes. After one or two doses, the temperature will usually start coming down. If the fever does not respond, try a different remedy.
Aconite – is useful at the very beginning of a fever and for a fever of sudden onset. This homeopathic is most often used during winter, when a child may have been exposed to cold wind. It is recommended for the child who is restless, moving around and tossing in bed, difficult to calm down, hyperactive, and possibly afraid.
Arsenicum album – is for the child whose fever increases between midnight and 2:00 a.m. This child is anxious and fidgety and reports pain in his legs. He wants a cold compress on his head and blankets his legs.
Belladonna – is also used against sudden fevers. This is for a feverish child who has chills, with a flushed and heated face and body. His pupils are typically dilated, and noise and light bother him.
Bryonia – is for the irritable child with a fever, strong thirst, and possibly constipation. This child asks to be left alone.
Chamomilla – for a fever associated with teething. This is for a child who feels worse with any kind of heat, worse in a hot room, worse under blankets, and, unfortunately, worse at night. If your baby has one hot, red cheek, and one pale and cold cheek, and wakes up crying throughout the night, an emerging tooth may be the cause of the fever. The child may seem comforted when carried around, but the calm with last only for a short time. Give him three doses of Chamomilla (one every two hours). Once this infant is no longer red-cheeked and clutching at you for comfort, his fever can be further resolved with Ferrum phosphoricum.
Ferrum phosphoricum – treats a moderate fever, including a previously high fever that has been lowered by Aconite or Belladonna. Ferrum phosphoricum is also useful for a fever that is not sudden, high, or rapid in onset. It is good for a child who is pale and feels weak.
Gelsemium – is for the child who sustains a fever and whose whole body feels achy and flushed. His eyelids are heavy and droopy, and he has no thirst.
Mercurius solubilis – is recommended for the feverish child with offensive-smelling breath, body odour, stool, and/or urine.
Phosphorus – is useful for a child suffering from a cough or respiratory infection with fever and who craves ice-cold drinks (which, unfortunately, he may not be able to keep down for long).
If none of the above remedies seems right for your child, a homeopathic combination fever remedy may be helpful. Follow dosage directions on the product label.
The usual dose is two granules of the selected remedy (most often 30 CH strength) every hour till improvement, up to four doses.