The Doctor Speaks: Childhood Fever, Ear Infection, Vaccination, Asthma

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By: Henry N. Williams, M.D.
Question: "My daughter, Jessie, had the flu at 11/2 yrs. of age with a raging fe­ver of 105 degrees that seemed to boil then die down. 1 know fever is supposed to be good for children, but when it got to be so high I worried about the possibility of seizures or convulsions. Can you tell me at what point a fever becomes dangerous, and what causes abrupt changes from high to low? What can 1 do in the case of high fever and how could I help my daughter in the future if she gets another flu?" - Rachel B., Las Vegas, NV

Answer: Children vary in their suscepti­bility to convulse, so there is no ar­bitrary "danger" level. In the past, oral over the counter medication was available which I used on my chil­dren. A warm (even hot) sponge bath, with the addition of a table­spoon or two of vinegar, will open up the pores (an avenue of excretion) and will usually bring the fever down if the child is restless or convulsions are feared. If one arm is bathed, then dried and covered, before going to another limb or the back or front, there is no danger of a chill which happens easily in the young. The bed bath can be repeated as often ten as needed. If it is not sufficient, a warm enema will usually bring down the fever at least a degree. Soap suds can be added to the tap water if a degree of constipation is present. Our European advisors suggest herbal compresses to the legs.

Children are subject to sudden high fever with any "infection" and most households have herbal rem­edies available. Homeopathically attenuated ACONITE (Monkshood) is to be thought of in sudden high fever with anxiety and even fear of death, BELLADONNA may be called for when the fever comes on more slowly with redness of the skin, dry mouth and dilated pupils. There are many combination tablets and liquids that combine these with other less frequently indicated remedies such as GELSEMIUM, BRYONIA and EUPHRASIA.

Question: "Jane is six and had a middle ear infection for which she went on an­tibiotics this past winter. I've heard various people talk about using gar­lic and onions in compress forms as being helpful. How effective are these and at what stage of the infec­tion should they be used?" - A concerned father from Wisconsin

Answer: The most painful experiences I remember from childhood were my severe earaches. Hot salt bags against the ear gave no relief even though it did not diminish my trust in my mother's wisdom. I even doubt if the usually effective garlic or on­ion compresses would have helped. Ear candles are now in vogue but in my experience they do not apply to earaches. Physiologically the prob­lem starts with a blockage of the Eustachian tube that connects the middle ear with the throat. It is the partial blockage of this tube that causes us to have the sensation of pressure or pain on rapidly ascend­ing or descending a hill in a car, or during air travel. Sometimes just swallowing relieves us. Sometimes gum chewing is enough. But for the child with an earache they are no help. Here the build-up is slower and the lymph nodes beside the Eustachian tube are pressing the tube closed. Firm massage downward under the ear and the bone just behind it (mas­toid process) and the angle of the jaw in front, followed by cold com­presses (ice is too cold) will many times help to relieve the discomfort. Both may need to be repeated fre­quently but not so deep as to cause real pain. Ice in the mouth (even ice cream) can help in addition. Some homeopaths say they frequently find PULSATILLA is helpful if the pain is only on the right; BELLADONNA for the left ear, but such easy 'rules' are rarely correct. If your child is subject to earaches, a consultation with a health care practitioner who knows that antibiotics are only to be used in emergency when the real `curative' medicine has not yet been found, is wise.

Question: "My daughter is a healthy seven year old but on the small side for a first grader. She's skinny and people say she should eat more although she has a good appetite. How do you consider each child's personal growth pattern? Should we care about this? What is the important thing for the mother to keep in mind during the child's growth?" - A concerned mother from Hawaii

Answer: It is well known that we are all different in our fingerprints. It is less well recognized that our body protein, of which we are built, is also unique for each individual. It is especially hard for parents not to notice the dif­ference between their child and the children of others. We frequently forget that good things come in small packages. Families differ in stature, size and features. It is advisable for parents to arrange a consultation with a health care practitioner if they are concerned about the growth of their child as we are all, as parents, in need of assurance if not advice.

Question: "I have friends from many walks of life who share different philoso­phies when it comes to immunizing your child. Some say not to take a chance, but I know children who have not been immunized. Could you share some of your thoughts on the question not to immunize a child? Thank you. " - J. Gonzalez, NY

Answer: This is a question, the answer to which depends on what one believes is the purpose, (if any) of illness and disease. I practiced most of my life among the "plain people" (Amish) where life is immersed in the belief that they are God's people and fol­low their bishop's interpretation of what their life should be. Among the Amish Mennonites, autos and trucks are not owned but if there is need, they ride in others' vehicles. They have no electricity in their home or barn but have gas refrigerators and gasoline engines to cool the milk holding tank. Most refuse immuni­zation on religious grounds.

There are those who take children as a gift of God and believe that any illness which comes is sent by God and refuse immunization. Others feel that they and their children have lived on earth before and that they are re­born to work out problems of the past and to grow in godliness in this cur­rent life on earth. They see illness as a process of changing the physical body so that it can become a better vehicle for the manifestation of the soul and spirit and, therefore, reject immunization.

There are those of us who look at the statistics and see the scourges of the past (polio, black diphtheria, etc.) no longer with us and rejoice at the success of science. Even here the "facts" are not completely convinc­ing. Those interested in pursuing this question are referred to pamphlets and support groups.

The most active currently is the Ohio Parents for Vaccine Safety.

Vaccines: Are They Really Safe and Effective? by Neil Z. Miller is published by the National Vaccine Information Cen­ter New Atlantean Press, P.O. Box 9638925, Santa Fe, NM 87504.

Question: "When I ask my anthroposophi­cal physician what causes asthma, I am told it is the feeling (astral)body caught in the lungs. I'd like to know more. - A Father from Atlanta

Answer: Some old practitioners have told me that asthma in children comes many times from an emotional shock. A cold or flu or emotional episode may bring on a return of the asthma. The treatment for recurrent episodes can follow several paths but all, if successful, must treat the child as a whole.


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