Monday, February 20, 2012

Treating Acute Illness Effectively

My 'almost' 3 year old son came down with a double ear infection a couple of weeks ago.  It started out as a little tiny tickle in his throat, progressed to some really high fevers (over 104), and then the ear pain.  For 7 solid days I barely left the house so I could look after my little monkey.  For the record, my son is in very good health and this was his most prolonged illness so far.  I reminded myself that it is OK to get sick - in fact we need a good dose of something 1-2 times a year so our immune system can actually do its job.  For the little people, getting sick is how the immune system develops and matures.  It has to learn somehow!  So since this was a learning experience for me too, I feel the urge to share with others what we did to look after Archer because we got through this WITHOUT antibiotics.  


Managing Acute Illness
I believe the best approach in dealing with an acute illness is to help the body do what it is trying to do naturally.  For Archer, this was the fever.  He ran a fever consistently for almost 7 days.  It would go up and down over the course of the day, ranging anywhere from 99.8F to 104F.  The high fevers usually spiked at night or mid-day and on two occasions I did use some children's Advil because the homeopathic remedies were not working quickly enough to get it down, and the fever was well over 104.  For the long haul however, I did not want to suppress the body's natural defense mechanism of the fever.  To help support his immune system for a rapid recovery (and to avoid a deeper problem that may be harder to treat later) I used: 

  • Unda 2, Unda 15  5 drops every 1-2 hours
  • several homeopathic remedies:  Belladonna 30K, Gelsemium 30K, Mercurius solubilis 30K and Arsenicum album 30K, 1 pellet every 1-2 hours
When he started complaining of ear pain I added:

  •  Unda 710  5 drops every 1-2 hours
  • Gemmotherapy Rosa Canina 1/2 tsp every hour
  • Echinasyr by Genestra 1/2 tsp every 1-2 hours
  • Homeopathic remedies  Apis mellifica 30K, Capsicum annum 30K  and Ferrum phosphoricum 30K.  
We also did the good 'ole wet sock treatment every night and used cool clothes on his forehead, armpits and inner thigh to keep the fever down during the day. 


Fever:  To Treat or Not to Treat
We have learned to fear the fever.  It is unfortunate because a fever is your child's greatest defense mechanism.  A fever is how a child matures and develops their immune system.  Please do not suppress this response unnecessarily!  Studies have shown that using fever reducers (Tylenol, Advil) will prolong the symptoms of an illness.(1,2)  A fever in the range of 102F-103F makes it difficult for bacteria and viruses to survive,  so allowing a fever to stay within this range will help the immune system to fight the infection efficiently.  If the body's temperature is too high (above 104) these benefits are not seen.  Bottom line:  Fever is beneficial.  Allow the body to do what is best and heal itself.  


Often children will not want to eat when they have a fever and food is not necessary - don't force feed.  Encourage fluids (water, broth, tea and homemade popsicles) and offer them frequently.  Most children will feel achy and tired when they have a fever - encourage rest and relaxation.  Once their temperature has been normal for 24 hours, your child can return to their normal activities and school.  


Parents need the knowledge and confidence to be primary care givers.  Acute illnesses are good for your child and if managed properly (not suppressing the symptoms) can give your child more vitality and prevent chronic disease.  


Here are some important tips to remember while being Dr. Mom:
1.  Have what you need at home waiting and ready - a homeopathic first aid kit, Unda numbers, and a couple of anti-infectives like Genestra's Echinasyr, Immuno-gen, or Vrl-gen, St. Francis Gar and Mullein ear oil, or Traumeel ampoules for ear infections/pain, teas (rosehips, peppermint, elderflower dry herb combination), and Unda Muco ccocinum.
2.  Start the remedies at the onset of the acute and give them often.  A good rule of thumb is to match the dosing frequency with the intensity of the symptoms.  For example, if your child's fever is 103.8/104 use fever remedies every 1-2 minutes until the fever comes down.  It might only come down to 102/103F but this is where it can do its best work.  Generally during acute illness, remedies should be given every 1-2 hours and as the symptoms decrease and the child gets better you can decrease dosing to 3 times a day.
3.  Continue to give some of the remedies 3-5 days AFTER the child is SYMPTOM FREE.
4.  Last but not least, get to know and trust a Chiropractor and a Naturopathic Doctor.  Adjustments by Dr. Tricia Denunzio were a key component in healing my son's ear infection and to get the ear draining properly.  


For a really great holistic view to ear pain please read this article by Dr. Larry Palevsky MD
New to homeopathic medicine?  The book "Everybody's Guide to Homeopathic Medicine" by Stephen Cummings and Dana Ullman is a perfect start to learning about this wonderfully safe and non-toxic medicine.  


Dr.Kate


Resources:
1. Acetaminophen: more harm than good for chickenpox? Doran TF; De Angelis C; Baumgardner RA; Mellits ED; J Pediatr 1989 Jun;114(6):1045-8.
2. Increased virus shedding with aspirin treatment of rhinovirus infection. Stanley ED; Jackson GG; Panusarn C; Rubenis 




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