It’s that time of the year when kids get sick. A lot of viral illnesses come with fever. Fever causes parents a lot of concern. However, fever is good. Fever means that the child’s immune system is mounting a response to an invading organism, generally a virus (85% of the time). The problem with fever is that it causes kids to be miserable, lethargic, not interested in food, whinny, etc. Moreover, fever causes parents to panic or become very worried. Read more on fever basics HERE.
Before we discuss some holistic ways to make kids feel better, let’s understand what sickness symptoms mean.
FEVER – A higher temperature in the body speeds up the functioning of cells, including the ones that fight illness. They can respond to invading germs faster. Also, higher body temperatures make it harder for bacteria and viruses to thrive in the body. Read more on this HERE.
LETHARGY – the body needs to use all it’s energy to fight infection, thus it makes you feel tired so you can lay down. Giving kids fever reducers like Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen, makes kids feel better, and they play and run around. This leads the body to use all its energy to play rather then fight infection, and the illness goes on and on.
DECREASED APPETITE – along the same lines as above. The body needs to use its energy to fight infection rather then digest food. Most kids are able to do just fine with fluids, it’s the solids they refuse a lot of the time.
ACHES – when the body activates the immune cells to go fight the infection, this causes inflammation in the body. Inflammation hurts. Taking pain relievers suppresses the immune system and prolongs the illness.
1 – Hydration
We discussed that kids will not want to eat. Do not worry about it. When they feel better, they will make up for lost time. Keep kids hydrated with chilled coconut water (filled with electrolytes), popsicles, and fruits/veggies rich in water: cucumber, melons, oranges, apples, blueberries. Bone broth, soups, steamed veggies hydrate and nourish the body. Breast milk is great for babies and toddlers. Herbal teas can have a big impact on the immune system: elderflowers, catnip (gentle choice for children), yarrow, white willow bark, echinacea, and lemon balm.
2 – Rest
Let them lay on the couch as much as they want. This may be your chance to snuggle the rowdy ones. Remember, sitting still allows the body to do the work needed to fight the infection.
3 – Supplements to boost immunity
Assist the body’s immune system with Elderberry Syrup, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, and Zinc. For an indepth supplement discussion ready HERE.
4 – Epsom Salt Bath
Epsom salt provides the body with hydration and magnesium while also drawing toxins from the body. Add 2 cups of Epsom salts to a warm (not cold) bath and soak (10-15 minutes for children and 20-30 minutes for adults). 1 cup for Toddler baths. 1/4 cup in baby baths.
5 – Naturally Cool Kids Off
A natural way to decrease the body’s temperature without effecting the immune system, is by applying cool washcloths, let them hang out in a cool bath (not cold), go outside without over bundling.
6 – Cooling Essential Oils
There are many essential oils that have cooling and anti-inflammatory properties. These can be used to help alleviate fever and the pain associated with cold and flu symptoms. Please speak with your medical provider or aromatherapist to get the correct dosing for your child. Essential oils contain powerful ingredients that can cause severe side effects if they are not used properly.
- PEPPERMINT essential oil contains menthol. Menthol gives peppermint its flavor and “cold” feeling when you taste and smell it. Peppermint essential oil can be used to help cool the skin and body when you have a fever. A 2018 study showed that menthol works to cool the body when it’s put on the skin.
- TEA TREE essential oil has been proven to help your body fight infection. Its active bacteria-fighting chemicals are called terpenes. Tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory properties. In a 2016 study, tea tree oil was able to bring down swelling, redness, irritation, and pain from allergic skin reactions.
- LAVENDER essential oil has been shown in numerous studies to decrease pain and inflammation. For example, 2016 study showed Lavender EO to significantly decrease menstrual pain in teenage women.
- EUCALYPTUS essential oil, known for it’s ability to decongest the airways, has also been show in a 2016 study to have anti -inflammatory properties in people with chronic inflammation.
- FRANKINCENSE essential oil has been studied in depth and shown to have anti-inflammatory effects in those suffering with rheumatoid arthritis or cancer. This 2015 study, is one of the many examples.
- CITRUS essential oils such as Lemon and Lime have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties as per this 2013 study.
Lastly, know when to call for help:
Call 9-1-1 if an adult or child has a fever and:
- Is crying and cannot be calmed down
- Cannot be awakened easily or at all
- Seems confused
- Cannot walk
- Has difficulty breathing, even after the nose is cleared
- Has blue lips, tongue or nails
- Has a very bad headache
- Has a stiff neck
- Refuses to move an arm or leg
- Has a seizure
- Has a new rash or bruises appear