If you are a parent – you hate the word ‘fever’. It scares you and gives you nightmares.
And because fever is so frightening – as a parent you want your child to have nothing at all to do with that ominous word.
But in your enthusiasm to keep the thermometer reading normal – should you do.......just anything?
NO YOU SHOULD NOT!
What is fever?
Fever is the manifestation of disease – rather than a disease itself. Fever can be caused by a variety of disease processes – Malaria, Typhoid, Hepatitis, Dengue etc. – but in the case of children - it is by and large caused by an array of viruses.
What should you do when your child has a viral fever
Most childhood fevers are viral – and viral infections usually do not require aggressive treatment. So, when you first take a child with fever to a doctor – all doctors usually prescribe mild medication to relieve the child’s symptoms while waiting for the illness to run its course.
However, when you are an anxious parent, desperate for your child to recover immediately, you are often unhappy with such treatment and urge doctors to prescribe antibiotics. What is important to realize here is - that antibiotics are for bacterial infections and are useless and superfluous in case of viral infections.
It is a tough to swallow – but what is crucial to understand is – that sick episodes are like extra coaching for the child’s immunity.
When a child is born – he / she has very little immunity. And "sickness" is the school the immune system goes to, to graduate to eventual good health. It is best then - to grit your teeth and get over viral episodes.
As a conscientious parent then - resist the temptation to over treat with medicines and overwhelm with love and comfort.
Beware of excessive antibiotics
Remember that antibiotics are two edged swords. Unnecessarily using an antibiotic is like sharing war strategies with the enemy. Every time an antibiotic is used, the bacteria learn how to fight it and develop new resistance mechanisms. The next time the antibiotic is used, it is not as effective.
Also antibiotics are indiscriminate killers who do not care about the identity of the bacteria they kill. They not only kill disease causing bacteria, they also wipe out other bacteria that keep the body healthy.
Fever is not necessarily always the “Bad Guy”
Fever is extremely discomfiting, but as hard as it maybe to believe - it is actually a protective mechanism. The elevation of body temperature that one reads as fever is protective because it does not allow the disease causing organism to thrive in the body which is therefore compelled to leave the body.
Also fever ensures that the child is compelled to rest thus enabling the body to use all its resources to fight the pathogen.
Fever therefore should be medicated prudently on the doctor’s advice. It is not uncommon for parents to indulge in the misuse of fever lowering drugs. This can prolong the illness and result in a harmful overdose.
Suppressing fevers indiscriminately – without consulting a doctor can also result in some major illnesses going undetected for too long and becoming difficult to cure as a result.
A wary – wait and watch approach is what is best employed with a childhood fever.
Build a fortress against infection
As your body builds up your immunity the hard way – contribute to its efforts in really easy ways.
Ensure that your child has a clean healthy environment. Ensure adequate age appropriate vaccination for your child. Emphasize a balanced diet, exercise and sufficient sleep. Remain stress free and ensure your child is too.
As I park my car and begin to make my way to the staircase in my apartment block – I hear a baby voice giving instructions...........
“Yes…..come on……flap your wings…….yes……..yes…..you’re getting it….just try……….Ohhhhhhh!…….its ok…….try again……..come on……………”
Intrigued – I make my way towards the baby voice.
As I reach the spot where the sounds are coming from – I find my neighbor's five year old daughter crouched in a corner. The voice giving encouraging instructions – is hers.
“What are doing darling?” I ask
“Aunty – this baby pigeon has fallen out of its nest” she says. “I am teaching it how to fly”
I pat the little teacher on her back to encourage her in her endeavor and then make my way up the stairs.
Ah! The beauty of being a child. I think.
The magic of believing that you can do whatever you put your mind to.
The power of being enveloped in positive self-esteem and believing that you are invincible.
Children are born fearless – they believe they are all powerful – they are convinced that they are capable of just anything.
Then why as they grow – do they lose faith in themselves? Why do they begin to think they are not good at this – or can’t do that?
Is it because we do nothing to keep their positive self-esteem alive?
Well here are 4 things that you can do to build your child’s self esteem
Never tell children – “Oh you can’t do that.” Or “That is impossible – no one can do that.” You never know where effort and persistence can take you.
Always say – “I like it that you tried so hard”
Would you attempt a song in public – if you aren’t a good singer? Would you run a race even if you knew you were going to come last? If you answer these questions with a ‘no’ – then you need to build your own self esteem. Building your own self esteem will help you discover how self-esteem is really built – and then you will be able to help your child build his or hers
Helping your child to build positive self-esteem is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child.
When you build healthy self-esteem into a child – you have a cheerful optimistic socially well-adjusted child – who is aware of his weaknesses but not intimidated by them.
No challenge is too great for a child with healthy self-esteem.
So if there is one thing you vow to do today for your child – vow to build his/her self-esteem – begin RIGHT NOW!!
Being Mom is no easy job.
It is tough enough on regular days – but at least it is a lot of fun
The job however becomes heart wrenchingly painful and really difficult to handle – when little ones are ill. I am Mom to an eight year old and I can vouch for that.
When you are a Mamma – your little one suffering from fever – is TERRIBLE! And coughs, colds or throat pains are sometimes just as bad. An upset stomach can upset you terribly. And an injury on their person can leave you aching and hurting more than you can ever imagine.
You want to do something to make things better. Something – anything!
I have often found myself asking this question in desperation when my daughter is ill.
As a doctor – I know that most coughs, colds and fevers are caused by viruses and that - viral infections do not require to be treated with antibiotics. All that one really needs to do to treat a viral infection is – to take lots and lots of rest – and do nothing else but wait.
But it is tough to see your little one suffer and not do anything about it. And patience is the one virtue that is really put to the test when your little one is ill.
It was once when I was almost running out of patience and resisting the urge to give my baby a drug for a terrible cold that she had caught – that I discovered something that I could actually DO.
I was pacing the corridors of my house with a cranky ill baby – when a neighbourhood Aunty – my neighbour’s mom walked in.
As her kind and gentle eyes probed me – a flood of tears threatened to overcome me and my voice shook as I conveyed how desperate I was to do something and how I could think of nothing to do to alleviate my little ones symptoms.
And she said – “Have you given her Haldi wala doodh (milk with turmeric added) yet?”
Of course I hadn’t.
Home remedies were not something I had ever practised too much of and I didn’t know too much about them – but Aunty insisted – and I thought – why not.
Milk and haldi were both things that could not be classified as drugs. Milk was something I believed in anyway – because it was a complete food that supplied all the nutrients in a glassful. And the goodness of Haldi was what prompted its use in almost every Indian dish. Together they were sure to be even better. And if they relieved symptoms and helped my baby recover – why not?
And so with Aunty’s help – I went about making and administering Haldi wala doodh that day. It gave me the satisfaction of doing something without doing something wrong (like administering and extra drug – just to tide over the cranky atmosphere in the house). And my baby finally fell asleep – so maybe it worked.
I then read up on Haldi and found an article on the Huffington Post called “5 Ways Modern Science is Embracing Ancient Indian Wisdom” and in that they called Turmeric “A Miracle Cure’. Turmeric the article says is a powerful anti – inflammatory agent – which is probably why it reduces symptoms if you take it when you have a cold or even if you are injured. It also supposed to reduce indigestion and heartburn. That is an added plus point because colds usually also leave one with a gently revolting stomach and if this mix calms that down – even better.
There are of course articles warning against the excessive use of the spice and articles that advice it’s restricted use in certain cases.
But by and large – a tiny pinch of turmeric in a glass of milk – appears to be a time tested and harmless home remedy that is according to ancient Indian wisdom – also very beneficial in many ways.
Mooshake is a brand that has recently come out with turmeric milk in various appealing flavours.
Moms like me will now not need to leave cranky ill children alone to whine while they prepare haldi wala doodh in the kitchen. Luckily for them – the haldi enriched flavoured milk from Mooshake is packaged in Tetra Pak cartons and for them – is now just the ‘snip of a scissors’ or ‘a prick of a straw away'.