Fever Facts

The Facts About Fevers

Our body’s first line of defense when invaded by any microbe, virus or bacteria is cells called microphages; a strong, healthy immune system may be able to eliminate the problem with this first step alone.

If these fail to contain the microbe/”bug,” then the body creates other pryogens and proteins to try to assist. Once these have been created, the hypothalamus in the brain recognizes there is an invader and raises the body temperature to assist in killing it off.

This elevated temperature will generally be just a couple of degrees, but the hypothalamus determines, based on the number of pryogens and proteins, what will be necessary to eliminate the microbe/bug. If the hypothalamus creates additional biochemicals to try to protect the body, then the temperature rises accordingly.

Defining a Fever

For all children above the age of 3 months, a fever is actually a good thing. It’s a sign that their immune system is functioning properly. Although many parents will panic when their child has a temperature above 98.6° F (37° C), and this is understandable since many health care providers have called this a “low-grade fever,” the reality is that children’s temperature may naturally run a little higher than what many consider the norm.

A true low-grade fever is anything between 100° F and 102.2° F (37.8° C and 39° C). This level of fever is beneficial; with most microbes/”bugs” that a child will be exposed to, this fever will assist the body in repelling the invader.

kid with fever A moderate-grade fever is typically between 102.2° F and 104.5° F (39° C and 40° C). This temperature is still considered beneficial; if a child’s body has reached this temperature, it’s what’s needed to kill whatever bacteria or virus their body is attempting to fight.

A high fever is a fever greater than 104.5° F (40° C). This fever may cause the child some discomfort and result in a bit of crankiness. Generally indicative of a bacterial infection, this fever means that the body is fighting something a little more serious than the common cold. While it will not cause brain damage or any other harm to a child, it is wise to seek assistance from their medical provider.

A serious fever is one that is at or above 108° F (42° C); this fever can be harmful.

Can a Fever Be Dangerous?

Fevers that are caused by the body’s immune system are not dangerous, and the hypothalamus will control the body temperature and not allow it to get so high as to cause harm. While it can be frightening to have a child running a moderate to high fever, it is simply their body doing what it was designed to do.

The only body temperature that can actually cause brain damage, despite what many parents believe, is 108° F (42° C), and this body temperature cannot typically be achieved on its own, but requires extreme external environmental temperatures – for instance, if a child is left in a closed car in hot weather.

What About Fever Reducers?

Since it is a very rare fever that can actually cause any kind of harm to a child, the best response is to let it run its course; most fevers will resolve themselves in 24 to 72 hours.

Parents should be aware that fevers will naturally spike a little in the late afternoon and evening, so a slight increase in temperature during these times is not a cause for alarm. A wait-and-watch approach should be recommended, rather than turning to over-the-counter chemicals.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend fever-reducing drugs: “Fever is not an illness, rather, it is a symptom of sickness and is usually a positive sign that the body is fighting infection.” Even in cases of high temperatures, the AAP says, “Fevers generally do not need to be treated with medication unless your child is uncomfortable or has a history of febrile convulsions. The fever may be important in helping your child fight the infection.”

The Best Response

The best response to a fever below 104.5° F (40° C) for children over the age of 3 years is lots of rest and clear fluids. Since fevers may cause the child to sweat, parents need to be aware that they will lose sodium and water, which must be replaced with proper fluids. (This does not include Gatorade or other sugary sports drinks.) Parents should contact the child’s health care provider right away if any of the following occur:1

  • A child younger than 3 months is running any grade of fever.
  • A child between 3 months and 3 years has a temperature above 102.2° F (39° C) and appears ill (it should be noted that even teething may cause a slight increase in temperature).
  • A child of any age has a temperature over 104.5° F (40° C).

Additionally, since dehydration is a potential side effect of fever, encourage parents to watch their child for the following: dry mouth, lack of urine or wet diapers for 6-8 hours (or only a small amount of really dark urine), dry skin, lethargy, irritability, fatigue, or with an older child, dizziness. These signs of dehydration may be a concern and the child should be seen by a health care professional, especially if they are unable to keep down clear fluids.

It is important to note that in children under the age of 5 years, a fever can also lead to a seizure, known as a febrile seizure. However, while this can be frightening, it will typically have no lasting effects.

“Fever Phobia”

In 1980, Dr. Barton Schmitt published a now-classic article in which he coined the phrase “fever phobia.” Many parents believed that untreated fevers could actually rise to critical levels and that even low-grade fevers could have serious neurological effects. This is just not true.

In 2001, Dr. Michael Crocetti, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins, was the lead author of a study called “Fever Phobia Revisited: Have Parental Misconceptions About Fever Changed in 20 Years?” He found that 20 years later, not much had changed and that despite education, parents still believe that fevers are dangerous. Keep in mind that although they do increase the need for fluids, fevers in and of themselves are not harmful.

A fever is a natural part of a child’s immune response. When it is functioning at its absolute best, a child’s body will fight off most foreign invaders so swiftly that they will have no outward effect at all. However, when necessary, a child’s immune system will raise their temperature to create a hostile environment for that invader. It’s how a properly functioning body functions.


Claudia Anrig, DC, practices in Fresno, Calif., and is on the board of directors of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association, an organization that can answer your questions regarding the value of chiropractic care during and after pregnancy.

 

The Truth About the New Fat-Fighting Pepsi

The Truth About the New Fat-Fighting Pepsi

January, test 17 2013

Close-up view of soft drink in a glass with straw
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto / thinkstock

“Pepsi Special” is now being marketed in Japan as a healthy soda that prevents the accumulation of fat.

Japan’s National Institute of Health and Nutrition has labeled this form of Pepsi a “FOSHU” product because it contains fiber in the form of water-soluble dextrin, a substance thought to help people lose weight.  FOSHU stands for “Food for Specified Health Uses.” Sodas previously given the FOSHU label have sold extremely well to their target audience: men and women in their 30s and 40s. The drink will be sold solely in Japan.

 

Are they effective?

Presumably, no. Actual evidence of their benefit is scant.

While a 2006 study did demonstrate dextrin’s ability to reduce the amount of fat absorbed from diet, the test was conducted on rats. The effect has never been tested in humans.

Dr. Walter Willett, the Harvard School of Public Health’s chair of nutrition, told Time Magazine, “Unless Pepsi can provide data from controlled studies in humans to the contrary, their claim should be regarded as bogus and deceptive.”

 

Benefits

Dietary fiber is known to help us feel fuller after a meal. Because it cannot be digested, fiber also helps naturally escort toxins from the body. What fiber will not do, though, is counteract the overwhelming volume of sugar common to many sodas.

Sugar can disrupt the function of the hormones insulin and leptin, both of which are crucial to maintaining a healthy body weight and proper blood sugar levels. We don’t know the exact sugar content of Pepsi Special because it is not listed on Pepsi’s website.

Just as damaging are the synthetic ingredients commonly found in soda, including high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, colorings and preservatives. These man-made chemicals can disrupt healthy hormone function and cause you to develop a hormonal resistance to healthy weight loss.

 

A Better Option

Treat fat-fighting Pepsi like you would treat an as-seen-on-TV infomercial: While it may seem amazing, its actual effect is probably less than impressive. Skip soda regardless of its marketing campaign. Instead, stay hydrated with properly filtered water.

It is important to make sure you’re eating adequate amounts of dietary fiber, as it has a multitude of health benefits (from the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health):

  • Regulates digestion.
  • Absorbs vitamins, minerals and amino acids.
  • Balances blood sugar.
  • Reduces triglycerides (fats in the bloodstream).
  • May help prevent gastro intestinal disorders and cardiovascular disease.

Fiber is an integral part of quality nutrition, but it is always best to get your fiber from natural sources like sweet potatoes, artichokes and zucchini—not soda.

How to Avoid ‘Winter Skin’

Winter Skin

By Rita Woods

The skin is the body’s first barrier of defense against millions of bacteria, viruses, mold and fungi. Think of your skin as the walls of a fortress that protect the interior from invading armies. In short, our skin is vital to our overall health. That being the case, why do we treat it so poorly? Especially during these winter months, it’s important to take care of your skin so it can help take care of you. Here’s what you can do.

What can I do about it? As a licensed massage therapist, this is the question most often asked by my clients in the winter months. They are talking about their dry and sometimes cracked skin. The skin is the first barrier of defense against millions of bacteria, viruses, molds and fungi. The skin is like the walls of a fortress that protect the interior from invading armies. Intact, healthy skin is vital to our overall health. I always keep extra lotion on hand during the winter because my clients’ skin will suck it up like a sponge.

image Let’s first look at why the skin becomes dryer in the winter months. Low humidity is the main cause. The air around us is more dry, so the moisture is wicked out of our body and we receive virtually no moisture from our environment. Other factors contribute to dry skin, but dry air will exacerbate an existing problem.

When dealing with dry skin, you should have two objectives in mind: first, getting moisture into the cells, and second, keeping it there. One thing you can do is to work with the air around you. Add some moisture to it. When I was a kid, I remember my mom putting containers of water on the vents in the floor. She was adding moisture back into the air. That was our humidifier. Grandma always had a cast-iron tea kettle simmering on her wood stove. Again, a way to put moisture back into the air. And in addition to keeping our skin moist and cutting down on static electricity, moist air retains heat better.

If you are dehydrated, drinking more water can also help, and not getting enough water will certainly contribute to dry skin. However, recent studies have shown that people who are already adequately hydrated do not receive any additional skin benefit from drinking more water.

Now let’s look at topical applications. These are moisturizers, with hand and body lotions being the most commonly used products. There are three types of basic moisturizers. One puts moisture in, one prevents moisture from escaping and one makes the skin feel smoother. Individual skin varies, so trial and error may be necessary to find the right combination. It’s chemistry that makes these work, so I’ll give you ingredients to look for. There are many substances in each category, but these most often appear in over-the-counter lotions:

image Humectants. This is a classification of moisturizer that penetrates the stratum corneum, the top layer of skin, and helps the skin absorb moisture. Humectants are popular in anti-aging products, since skin dries out more as we age. Common substances in this category include glycerin, hyaluronic acid, panthenol, propylene glycol and sorbital.

Occlusives. This category of moisturizer works by coating the top layer of the skin to decrease evaporation. Common substances with occlusive properties include lanolin, stearic acid, cetyl alcohol, caprylic/capric triglyceride, mineral oil and petrolatum. I can already hear the moans about using mineral oil or petrolatum. Keep in mind that for many people with dry skin, their hands, fingers and feet will actually crack and bleed. This is a most unhealthy condition and can be quite painful as well. In this case, they may want to use grandma’s beauty secret of smearing a white petroleum product, like Vaseline, on their hands and then donning a pair of white gloves before going to bed.

Emollients. Emollients soften and smooth skin texture. Common substances that possess emollient properties include cyclomethicone, dimethicone, isopropyl myristate, octyl extenuate, isopropyl palmitate, isopropyl isostearate and jojoba oil.

Exfoliators. A lotion or moisturizer works more effectively when the skin is free from dead surface cells. To achieve the best results in the winter, use a good nonabrasive exfoliate that contains its own moisturizing properties. A salt scrub may help, but can also be drying to winter skin.

By knowing the action of different ingredients, you can make better decisions about winter skin care. But there is still more that can be done. The skin has a layer of lipids that is vital to healthy skin. This natural lipid component can be stripped away with soaps, harsh cleansers and even hot water. At the very least, try using warm rather than hot water for showering. After showering, pat dry and while the skin is moist, but not wet, apply your lotion; especially a moisturizer or lotion with humectant properties. This can actually draw the moisture from the surface into the skin.

The skin is the largest organ of the body and deserves quality care. For many people, winter care may require measures that go beyond their normal routine. Skin care problems should be viewed as any other acute or chronic health issue and be addressed accordingly. The use of products or ingredients that you may normally avoid could be your best defense. I had a friend tell me that when her hands start to crack, she uses grandma’s Vaseline-and-gloves regime. It’s not something anyone should do all the time, but you’ll be grateful when there is a problem.


Rita Woods is the owner of a natural skin-care company and a trainer and workshop facilitator on issues of spiritual growth and wellness.

Food Allergies: What To Look For

Food Allergies: What to Look For

Food Allergies

It isn’t rare to see a number of medical research these days dedicated to food allergies. It is widely reported that food allergies occur in 3 to 4 percent of adults and 6 to 8 percent of children.

Food allergies should be taken seriously, often they can cause a number of life threatening complications and can be disabling. People who have high sensitivity to certain foods often will break out in hives, experience throat tightness or have stomach cramps, others will have delayed reactions that can take 3-4 days to set in after the initial consumption.

Some food sensitivities are also linked to chronic inflammatory and autoimmune conditions like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, hypothyroidism, intestinal bowel diseases, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and more. Protein in wheat (gluten) is one of the most common foods that can cause bad symptoms along with dairy, eggs, corn, and soy. So, what should you look for? Aside from contributing to chronic conditions, more subtle symptoms of food allergies include:

  • Food Allergies
  • Constipation/Diarrhea
  • Gas and/or bloating
  • Heartburn
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Brain Fog
  • Fatigue
  • Asthma
  • Eczema

You can determine your allergies by elimination challenge where you avoid some or all of the major allergens (gluten, dairy, corn, eggs, soy) for about 4-6 weeks. Leave a few days after trying each food to clearly distinguish reactions. During your reintroduction, keep a diary of the changes you experience.also ask your doctor to run a number of tests to determine what allergies you may have.

Dangers of Diabetes

The Dangers of Diabetes

Some have called it an epidemic and with the growing number of people who are being diagnosed it can definitely be considered one. We are talking about diabetes, a group of diseases characterized by high blood glucose levels that result from defects in the body’s ability to produce and/or use insulin.

 

Lifestyle changes can help relieve many of the harsh symptoms of this disease but when someone has not been taking care of themselves, they can encounter serious complications. Here are some of the complications that can become life-threatening, according to the American Diabetes Association:

  • Eye Complications: People with diabetes are at risk for developing glaucoma, cataracts and other eye problems make sure you get regular checkups to ensure your vision is doing well.
  • Foot Complications: Neuropathy (which can cause numbness in the feet) as well as other complications can arise from diabetes.
  • Skin Complications: Stay alert for symptoms of skin infections and other skin disorders common in people with diabetes.
  • High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): High blood pressure—also called hypertension—raises your risk for heart attack, stroke, eye problems, and kidney disease.
  • Hearing Loss: Diabetes and hearing loss are two of America’s most widespread health concerns.

Diabetes is a serious health problem and you should consult your doctor if you have suspicious symptoms that can indicate one of the problems above. Maintain a healthy lifestyle by exercising and eating right in order to ensure you are in danger of getting diabetes.

Natural Remedies to Stay Calm

Natural Remedies to Stay Calm

When it comes to daily stress, many people will turn to food, TV or alcohol to relieve their tension. Luckily, these days there is a lot you can do to relieve stress, get calm and relax. Many of these are natural remedies that you can easily access at your local health foods store or massage therapist’s office.

Next time you are looking for a break try these tips:

    • Get a massage: massage therapy has been known to not only make you feel more relaxed, but also diminish your muscle tension and improve your sleep. See your local massage therapist for a remedy that can improve more than your frazzled state of mind.

 

    • Meditate: Zoning out in a quiet room to get a few minutes of calm can reduce your stress significantly and has been used for anxiety for years. If you need help meditating into a quiet zone, try a yoga class.

 

  • Herbal supplements and oils: Some herbal supplements that have been known to calm the nerves in an effective way include valerian root, which is best known as a herbal remedy for insomnia. Valerian is also used in patients with mild anxiety. Other supplements that tend to do the job are lavender, which can be consumed as a tea or used for aromatherapy purposes. Plant essential oils like lavender can be added to baths, massage oil, or infusers. Other essential oils that are used for anxiety and nervous tension are: bergamot, cypress, geranium, jasmine, lavender, melissa, neroli, rose, sandalwood, ylang-ylang. Lavender is the most common and forms the base of many relaxing blends.

By incorporating some of these in your weekly schedule, you should start to feel more calm and less frenzied. Talk to your physician for more.

Cough & Flu Relief the Natural Way

Cough Relief the Natural Way

By Editorial Staff

Cough Relief

Remember when “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down” was the catch phrase of the day? Well, soon it might be, “A spoonful of honey means you don’t need any medicine,” because research suggests honey is an effective remedy for childhood cough.

While we’re mired in the thick of another cold and flu season, it’s time to remind parents of two important points: First, the Food and Drug Administration says cough and cold medications are not appropriatefor children ages 6 and younger and may actually be dangerous; and second, research suggests honey may be the best treatment of all for helping children suffering from cough and related symptoms.

Let’s deal with the safety issue first. Over the past several years, the FDA has progressively investigated over-the-counter cough and cold medications, many either with dosing instructions for adults and children or for children only, depending on the type/brand. With little research done involving children only (after all, what parent would want their child to be the guinea pig in one of those studies?), the general protocol was for dosing recommendations to be extrapolated from adults to children. In other words, there was little to no hard data providing any sort of a basis for how much of a given cough/cold medicine should be administered to children – or if it should be administered at all.

 

Eventually, the FDA figured this out and ruled that cough and cold medicines were inappropriate for children under the age of 2, then extended the ban to children under age 6.

Even the medications still considered appropriate for the 6-plus age group (at least for now) have come under fire, with more than a few product recalls for quality-control issues that resulted in a number of products (cough and cold, allergy, fever) made by several drug manufacturers being removed from the shelves for several months in 2010.

Wouldn’t it be great if our kids had something natural to help them get rid of those nasty coughs, or at least minimize their duration? Well, perhaps they do: honey. For example, in a 2007 Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine study involving 105 children ages 2-18 with upper respiratory infections, children who were given buckwheat honey (between 1/2 and 2 teaspoons prior to bedtime, depending on age) coughed less and slept better than children who did not receive any honey or who received honey-flavored dextromethorphan (the primary active ingredient in many cough and cold medications).

Talk to your doctor for more information, and keep in mind that honey is not recommended for children in their first year because it may contain botulism spores, which can be harmful to young children’s underdeveloped immune systems.