Evidence based medical information obut fever and indication of treatment (if that really need to do...)


Sponging your child with tepid (lukewarm) water, alcohol baths and rubs are not recommended! 

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Here we look at fever and the treatment of fever in children, caused by viral infections found in the temperate climate of Great Britain. (This advice does not necessarily apply to tropical or sub-tropical infections).

It is impressive to realise that we constantly maintain a body temperature of 37 degrees Celsius, but even more impressive that we can produce the great heat of a fever. Fever is largely a childhood condition. Children seem to have the ability to produce fevers easily and can tolerate them better than adults. (High fevers are less common in adults and are more often a symptom of a serious illness.) Fevers should be viewed with reverence, particularly when we consider that this heat originates from the Sun! As discussed in the chapter on potentized remedies, plants bind the warmth of the Sun into their substance. When humans absorb food, this warmth is released into our bodies when it is broken down by oxygen, like the heat from a burning log fire. The following is an attempt to restore a sense of reverence for fever.

The body of the newly born baby is completely built up from substances delivered through the mother. From the moment of birth, with the first breath of oxygen, the baby will start to break down and reorganise these motherly substances. Through the breathing process and feeding, the baby starts to rearrange and transform his or her little body to correspond to its own individuality. During a fever, a dramatic transformation is taking place in the body. The body needs the fever in order to leap hurdles in this process of maturing. We could say that, on the one hand we come into the world with inherited substances and forces, linking us with our past; but on the other hand we go through a process of personal development, drawing us into the future. Fever can be seen as an episode where these two opposing streams rub against one another, hence the heat!


We need to support the febrile process so that a new beneficial balance can come about. To support a fever, you need to be confident, but often when the child has a fever, parents are greatly concerned. A common misunderstanding is that fevers can get too high and as a result a child may die of a fever.

Another area of concern is febrile convulsions. Febrile convulsions only happen when the temperature rises rapidly in a young child. They usually come out of the blue: first the convulsion occurs and it is only then that the parent realises the child has a fever. When the parent actually notices a fever in the child, the period in which body temperature rises rapidly has already passed and therefore a febrile convulsion is unlikely. Febrile convulsions do not have negative implications for later life. They do not cause brain damage or epilepsy.

The following rhyme still scares people:

101 the fever’s begun,

102 you're feeling quite blue,

103 you get wobbly at the knee,

104 you are at death's door,

105 you're more dead than alive,

106 you are crossing the Styx,

107 you are an angel in heaven!

Again, these are old tales.

As for the concern that the fever and body temperature might rise too high, you can be reassured by knowing that a fever can not go beyond a certain plateau phase. In previous centuries this fact was not understood, and when people died from meningitis, for example, it was claimed they had died of a fever. That is also why there are rhymes warning against fever and ending in predictions of death!

You cannot die of a fever, but you may possibly die of an illness underlying the fever, such as meningitis or malaria. Any serious underlying illness like meningitis, malaria or pneumonia needs to be excluded, of course. A test to exclude meningitis is to sit the child upright with his or her legs stretched out on the bed, and ask the child to look at their belly button (or keep a toy there to try and make the child look down without forcing). In meningitis this is likely to cause distress because this stretches the meninges. These are the sheath of the brain, enveloping the brain and spinal cord right down to the tailbone. When this sheath of the brain is inflamed, (i.e. in meningitis), this ‘neck-down’ position can cause a pain in the head and/or neck. (Mind you, flu will cause a pain in the neck area when the person looks down but this pain comes from the neck muscles rather than from the meninges.) A headache, lethargy, and being irritated by light can be indicators of meningitis.

Sometimes these meningitis bacteria run around in the bloodstream and do not cause a pain in the neck or headache. In a typical case, this infection can show up as small bruises. So you need to look for a rash as well — it usually looks little bruises which do not fade when the spots are pressed. Meningitis can develop in a matter of hours.

Therefore, in general, in case of a fever and you are worried it is best to contact your doctor for advice. When the fever lasts longer than 2 days, go and see your doctor to have the child checked for other illnesses, like chest or urinary tract/ ‘waterworks’ infections. When in doubt, always ring the doctor!

(partial chapter; what follows in the book
is the management of fever)

  1. Havinga W. Time to counter 'fever phobia'! Br J Gen Pract. 2003 Mar;53(488):253 http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/picrender.fcgi?artid=1314561&blobtype=pdf
  2. Havinga W. Giving paracetamol for fever is unnecessary. BMJ. 1997 Jun 7;314(7095):1692 http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/314/7095/1692















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