The Importance of Fever

prescribing Mar 31, 2020

One of the most common concerns of parents is when their child has a fever and does not feel well. Usually, this is the first sign of an illness and the parents want their children’s temperature to return to normal. They often have acetaminophen and give it to their child routinely to lower the fever. But this is not always the best course of action. Fever is the body’s natural defense and, if understood, can be worked with and not suppressed for the best and healthiest response to illness.

Fever is controlled hyperthermia. Most often it results from an infection somewhere in the body but may be caused by other conditions as well (cancer, allergic reactions, central nervous system reactions). White blood cells, injured tissues, and macrophages release pyrogens that act directly on the hypothalamus causing it to release prostaglandins. The prostaglandins, in turn, cause the hypothalamic thermostat to reset to a higher temperature initiating heat-promoting mechanisms of the body. As a result, vasoconstriction (blood vessel constriction) occurs and restricts blood flow to the surface of the body. As the surface heat declines, the skin becomes cool to touch and shivering occurs to raise the body temperature. These are the chills during fever. This is a sure sign that the body temperature is rising.

The temperature rises until the body reaches the new temperature setting. The body will maintain this new temperature setting until it is either suppressed by drugs or the disease resolves itself. The body’s need for fever will end and the temperature will return to normal. Once the feedback is given for the body to lower the temperature, the heat loss mechanisms swing into action and cause sweating to release the body heat. This is when we know the fever has "broke."

As the body has increased its metabolic rate, it reduces the environment for most bacterias and viruses to grow. Bacteria require large amounts of iron and zinc to proliferate but during fever, the liver and spleen sequester these minerals and they become less available. Fever also increases the cellular metabolic rate and speeds up the cellular reparation and immune response.

Normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees F. (37 degrees C.) but can vary greatly in normal conditions. Some people have lower baseline body temperature and others higher. Any temperature less than 100.3 F. is considered normal for most children. Therefore most low-temperature response that do not distress the child do not require a medical evaluation.  Temperatures in excess of 100.4 F. are considered abnormal and deserve attention especially in infants younger than 3 months.

Common causes of fever are colds, flu, and other infections. Most often the illness is self-resolving and the fever is the body’s normal healthy response. I usually do not worry about any fever that is less than 104.5 F. (40.3 C.).  Fevers over 104.5 F. are dangerous because excess heat denatures (inactivates) enzymes and brain damage may occur. If the fever is related to a known illness, then monitoring the fever over time is necessary. Some illnesses do not resolve so quickly and the body will still have the need for fever. If the nature of the illness is unknown, then any fever lasting more than 3 days or higher than 104.5 F should be thoroughly investigated.

The most common allopathic treatment for fever is acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Aspirin should be avoided because it can react with some viral infections and can cause a serious condition called Reye’s Syndrome. Reye’s Syndrome causes inflammation of the brain and liver degeneration and can be fatal.

Thankfully, there are other ways to lower fever and homeopathic remedies that can help. Putting the person in a bathtub of warm water and sponging them will cause evaporation and lower the body temperature. This can bring relief when the fever is contributing to overall discomfort.

There are many remedies that have indications of fever. But fever in itself is not usually the cause for prescription. It is the addition of symptoms and observations of the person that will lead to the correct remedy. Look for mental symptoms, thirst, body-color, restlessness and other symptoms of the malady to come to a remedy for fever. Good questions to ask the client are: Does the fever alternate with chills? Does wrapping up help the fever or does cool air feel best? Is the fever dry or is the person perspiring? Is there something that happened to them before the fever appeared? Is there any pattern to the fever?

Remedies for common simple fever include (this by no means is complete):

  • Aconite – After exposure to cold, dry air/wind especially after perspiring. The skin is hot and dry. Very thirsty. Restless.
  • Belladonna – Face red. Throbbing headache. Head hot and feet are cold. Sweating on covered parts. Delirium with the fever. Hallucinations.
  • Bryonia – Dryness of mouth, lips. Cough with little or no expectoration. Pain in the chest with cough. The person wants to lie down and be motionless. Great thirst for large quantities of water at long intervals. Stool dry, hard. Constipation.
  • Gelsemium – The person will be drowsy and sleepy. Eyes half-open. Confusion and cannot think straight. Wants to be still and quiet, does not want to talk or have others around.
  • Mercurius Vivus – Creeping chilliness. Chills alternate with heat. Profuse sweat during heat that does not bring relief. Tongue soft, flabby with indentations of the teeth.
  • Nux Vomica – Great heat. Whole-body burning hot yet any movement brings on the chill. After any overindulgence. Inharmonious, ineffectual urging.
  • Pulsatilla – Constant chilliness even in a warm room. Mouth dry yet thirst-less.
  • Pyrogeneum – Taste putrid. Very restless. Temperature oscillating high, then low then high again. Pulse abnormal, quick and out of proportion to the temperature. Or high temperature and low pulse.
  • Rhus Toxicodendron – When caused by getting wet. Cold rainy weather exposure. Whole-body painful. Great restlessness, must constantly change positions, which gives some relief.

In the Complete 2009 Repertory, there are 786 remedies under Fever, Heat; GENERAL. Because fever is such a general symptom, you must take the case of the person and prescribe it to the whole. Particulars about fever are important as well as other symptoms of the illness. In and of itself, fever is the best way for the natural immune response to be expressed. Encourage those suffering from fever to not suppress it. Educate them on the importance of fever and how it is helpful. By getting good rubrics and prescribing accurately not only will fever resolve but so will the illness. Homeopathy again can come to the rescue.


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