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Fever and Acetaminophen Use

What You Should Know About Fever and Acetaminophen Use

Many parents find it difficult to refrain from giving their children Tylenol (acetaminophen/paracetamol) or some other type of children’s over-the-counter analgesic medication such as Ibuprofen (NSAID) when they see their child acutely ill. We suggest a parent hold back for a multitude of reasons.  Originally we advised this based on basic naturopathic philosophy around acute illnesses and fever as a fundamental component of the healing response, but now this recommendation is bolstered by our clinical observations that a child’s overall health fares better when these types of medications are not used. Lastly, there is now research indicating that acetaminophen use contributes to the development of autism not only in pregnancy, but also in a child’s early development (1). Let’s discuss these items in further detail.

Firs, acetaminophen blocks the liver’s critical job of sorting and filtering toxins when a person is acutely ill. While it may alleviate the anxiety of the parent since they think “how can I just sit and let my child suffer?”, it actually only prolongs the recovery time since this elimination is really the primary effect and, we would argue the purpose, of acute infections. When we use natural medicine, we support this process instead of blocking it. Clinical observation and history shows us that suppression of symptoms is not in the patient’s best interest as it only contributes to the patient developing additional or repetitive issues down the pike. Furthermore, when children are given acetaminophen repeatedly, illness after illness, year after year when the terrain is right and their diathesis predisposes them, a more egregious illness often develops. Chronic immune insufficiency, Epstein Barr Virus, Mono, Autism and even cancer are all what we support generating when we use these types of over the counter medications. How do we know this?  This is what naturopathic medical philosophy is specifically enabling us to recognize in the patterning of the patients’ histories we take decade after decade.

What we consider to be in the patient’s best interest is to enable them to eliminate completely, effectively and without distress. As fever is a natural and primary immune response of the body, it should be supported and not feared. Only toxic fevers are at risk for going above 105 degrees and this occurs only in patients who are severely dys-regulated. Refer to the fever chart below to gain a better understanding of which fever temperatures are most effective.

Finally, we do not suggest we sit idly by and do nothing for acute illness and fever.  We have a litany of suggestions that enables the fever to be quick, efficient (serving it’s purpose, without danger) and without suffering. So for the anxious parent who cannot bear to watch their child suffer, remember that there are many options to choose from and your naturopathic doctor can assist you in learning what to do in the case of a high fever or an uncomfortable symptom picture in you, your child or any other family member.  See Dr. Erin’s summary of Gerard Gueniot’s best homeopathic selections for fever.

Remember, using natural medicine is not inaction! You are doing more for your child than ever!


37.5-38.5 99.5-101.3 Favors Bacterial Growth Very inefficient fever, Poor immunity
38.5-39.5 101.3-103.1 Favors Bacterial Growth; Bacteriostatic (stops bacteria but does not kill he bacteria) Minimally effective, a sign of progress in immune function from a lower grade fever.
39.5-40.5 103.1-104.9 Bateriolytic (knocks out and kills the bacteria) IDEAL FEVER TEMPERATURE
40.5 and up 104.9 and up ?Toxic fever? VERY unusual Cytolytic (causes cellular death) FEVERS RARELY go above 41.5C/105F. Cool in lukewarm water or with damp, cool cloth if Temp exceeds 41.5 C/104.9F.

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