I'll admit it: I had a fever freak-out this week.
My 13-year-old, Ian, went down for nearly three days with a temperature hovering between 102 and 103 degrees.
I didn't bother with my usual mantra ("barf me up a lung and you can stay home from school") as I could immediately see he wasn't faking it. I know he's miserable when he doesn't fight taking an afternoon nap and loses all interest in video games.
The trouble was – at least for me – that nothing I tried broke that fever. Poor kid. He'd had just about enough of my insistence that he take a "long" drink of water or apple juice every half hour. The old stand-by one-two punch of rotating acetaminophen with ibuprofen didn't work either.
So when the neatly-dressed anchor on the national evening news brightly announced that fever isn't necessarily bad for kids, I found myself resisting the urge to throw something at the television.
"What?!" I wanted to shriek. "You dude, have not been home with a sick kid all week!"
His announcement warranted further investigation. How could it actually be "good" that Ian had such a prologned fever?
Yes, I know. Fever is a sign that something is wrong. It's an indicator that the body is at war.
But is the fever itself the strategic element in winning the battle against the invading disease?
I thought the idea was to bring down the fever. ASAP. I thought fever was the bad guy.
Turns out I was mistaken. Oh, no. Don't tell anyone. Especially my kids.
Not trusting TV nearly as much as I do the Internet (silly me), I forsook a shower to carve out some web surfing time when Ian was asleep on the couch.
As it turns out, according to pediatricians posting on a variety of sites, fever is considered to be an ally in the body's battle to end illness.
Fever triggers the body to produce additional white blood cells, which gives the body more ammunition to attack illness. Fever can even slow down the ability of bacteria and virus to reproduce.
Wow. It was time to adapt my mothering to this new information. Reducing fever isn't nearly as crucial as keeping the child comfortable. Noted.
Fortunately, Ian's fever did break. His voice is still pretty cracked but in my effort to keep him resting for another day or two, I've done the unthinkable: Rented more video games.
So while he didn't go to school all week, I learned a lesson or two about caring for a sick kid. And it left me wondering how other mothers handle fevers. What do you do when your child's fever breaks the 100-degree mark?
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