FEVERS ARE NOT THE ENEMY
Turn up the heat! A fever is your body’s way of ridding itself of unwanted invaders. Its job is twofold: to stimulate the immune system and to create an untenable environment for undesirable organisms. The first line of defense against an invading microbe is a cell called a macrophage, which devours the virus. Macrophages then mobilize other immune system cells and make Interleukin One (IL-1).1 IL-1 is one of several parts of your body that raises the alarm and lets your body know your temperature needs to be turned up.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING A FEVER?
Most viruses and bacteria prefer a temperature lower than the human body; a higher temperature vanquishes bugs.
Your good army of white blood cells is multiplied and mobilized to fight the exact kind of invader that’s attacking your body.
It creates a barrier around iron, which bacteria feast upon.
More antibodies are produced, like special agents trained to fight a very specific enemy- more efficient than any pharmaceutical drug!
Interferon production is stepped up, which blocks the spread of viruses to healthy cells.
WHEN TO SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION
We encourage supporting a fever EXCEPT under the following conditions. Seek medical attention immediately if fever involves:
A baby under one month old with a temperature greater than 100.4 degrees F. While waiting for care, breastfeed: mother’s milk has antibodies created “on demand” at the breast as it encounters pathogens in the baby’s mouth.
Infants between one and three months old with a temperature greater than 100.4 degrees F, if they appear ill (lethargic, listless, nonresponsive). Breastfeed as often as baby desires while seeking a practitioner’s care.
Children between 3 months and 36 months, with a temperature above 102.2 degrees F, if they appear ill.
Anyone with a temperature over 104.5 degrees F.2
SUPPORT, DON’T SUPPRESS A FEVER
A fever of 102 degrees F to 103 degrees F is considered the optimal defense against microbial marauders. Supporting a fever means to work with it. Save the pharmaceuticals for emergencies.
FAST. Digestion and peristalsis are slowed down during a fever. Therefore, drinking liquids such as broths, coconut water and water with electrolytes till the fever breaks is a useful strategy. A 2002 Dutch study found that fasting might help the body fight certain types of fevers — ones caused not by viruses, but by bacterial infections. The human subjects who only drank water had increased levels of interlukin-4, which helps B cells produce antibodies that attack bacteria hiding outside cells. Viral infections may require more sustenance: in the same study, six hours after human subjects consumed a meal, their levels of gamma interferon increased. Gamma interferon helps trigger the killer T cells that destroy cells invaded by viruses. In a comparison group who drank only water, gamma interferon levels fell slightly. Bone broths and chicken soups are an effective, hydrating, easy-to- digest nutritional base.
REST. Akin to a duck paddling furiously underwater while appearing to float serenely on the surface, your body is working hard even while you are lying down. Sleep is a valuable tool in helping a fever do its job.
ABSTAIN from exercise and activity so that the immune system can function optimally. Support the body’s defenses; don’t suppress them by exercising or working while your fever is active.
1 Colleen Huber, Naturopathyworks.com