Whether it is an adult or a child, fever can make you miserable and worrisome. Although fever is a normal response of the body to fight infections, it can leave you feeling tired and exhausted.
Traditional medicines for fever can make you sleepy and dizzy. Thankfully there are many natural strategies, such as by staying hydrated, trying herbal remedies, etc., to treat fever and manage its symptoms. Read on to learn more.
What is a fever?
Fever is higher than average body temperature (36 to 37-degree centigrade) caused by the body’s natural response to an infection. People’s average body temperature can vary, as it depends on activities like eating, exercise, and sleeping.
The temperature of the body is the highest at around 6 pm, and the lowest at around 3 am.
When you develop an acute infection, the temperature of the body goes up as a defense mechanism, so that the invading germs are not able to survive the hot temperature. Having a fever is an indication that the body’s immune system is doing its job well.
The doctors usually recommend that if the fever is not severe, you should not attempt to bring it down as it will help get rid of the infection that you are suffering from.
However, when the fever reaches 38 degrees centigrade, it is not considered mild and needs to be checked.
Severity of fevers
- Low grade: 100.5 to 102.1 °F or 38.1 to 39 °C
- Moderate: 102.2 to 104 °F or 39.1 to 40 °C
- High: 104 to 106 °F or 40.1 to 41 °C
- Hyperpyrexia: above 106 °F or 41 °C
A fever is called acute if it lasts up to 7 days and sub-acute if it lasts up to 14 days. Chronic and persistent fever lasts for more than 14 days.
Symptoms of fever
You may also develop some signs and symptoms along with temperature. These include –
- Lack of appetite
- Increased sensitivity to pain
In cases of extremely high fever, you can also suffer from confusion, irritability, delirium, and seizures.
Taking a temperature
There are many different types of thermometers to take temperature including oral, rectal, ear and forehead thermometers. Most people have a normal temperature of 98.6 °F. For some people, it may be slightly higher or lower. It is also normal to have slight fluctuations in temperature during the day.
If your oral, rectal, ear or forehead thermometer registers 100.4 °F or higher, you are considered to be running a fever. If you use axillary (armpit) thermometer, a reading of 99.4 °F would be considered a fever.
For an axillary reading of an oral thermometer, place the thermometer in the armpit and cross the arms of the child over the chest. Wait for 4 or 5 minutes before you take the reading.
To use a rectal thermometer for babies, put a bit of petroleum jelly on the bulb. Lay the baby on his tummy and carefully insert the thermometer up to one inch into the rectum. Hold the baby still for three minutes and take out the thermometer.
In case of high fever, the doctor usually recommends over the counter medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) or aspirin.
If a bacterial infection has caused the temperature, the doctor may prescribe an antibiotic. High doses or long term use of these medicines can lead to side effects so be careful of taking too much.
You can also opt for natural methods and home remedies to bring down the fever.
Natural ways to bring down fever
Several natural ways can reduce fever. Try these natural remedies to lower your temperature and the discomfort that comes with it.
It is important to stay rested and sleep when you have a fever. The immune system consumes a lot of energy when battling bacteria and viruses in the body.
Sleeping helps the body direct all its energy towards the immune battle. When we rest, the body makes more white blood cells that attach the viruses and the bacteria in the body.
When we rest, the body heals and repairs itself. Sleeping and resting also allow the brain to trigger hormones that encourage new tissue growth.
Lack of sleep and rest can cause the immune system to weaken and can prolong the fever. So when you have a fever, you must rest and sleep for at least 8 to 9 hours a day.
2. Stay hydrated
Staying hydrated is very important when you have a fever. High body temperature can lead to dehydration.
Drinking more fluids keeps the body hydrated and even helps to cool the body. Staying cool helps mitigate symptoms like headaches, muscle aches, and weakness.
Drinking more fluids also helps to remove toxins from the body, which can speed up the healing process. However, it would help if you avoided sugary drinks and juices.
Bacteria are known to live off glucose, so these drinks can cause more harm to the body. Sugary drinks can also lead to inflammation, which delays the healing process.
Coconut water and herbal teas are great options as they are hydrating and provide electrolytes as well.
3. Take a bath
You can take a warm water bath to bring down your fever. Avoid cold showers as this can cause discomfort and shivering. A warm water bath also helps you relax.
4. Eat bland food
People tend to lose their appetite when they have a fever. However, when you are sick, you must eat the right foods to help you recover faster. Bland foods like chicken soup, broth and oatmeal can help calm your stomach and provide nutrition.
Chicken soup is a rich source of nutrition as it provides vitamins, minerals, proteins and energy to the body. Drinking broth keeps you hydrated and provides magnesium, calcium, phosphorus to the body.
Bananas and oatmeal are also excellent at preventing nausea and providing energy when sick.
5. Pick probiotics
Probiotics are said to be the key to a healthy gut, and a healthy gut can keep your immune system healthy. Choose a probiotic that contains Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species of bacteria.
They protect against nausea and diarrhea. You can also begin taking probiotics if you have been in contact with someone who is sick as they can also protect you from getting an infection.
6. Remove excess clothing
You should remove all excess clothing or blankets when you have a fever. Keep the environment comfortably cool. Bundling up in blankets can prevent your temperature from coming down and can even make it rise further.
7. Try herbal remedies
Ginger can be taken along with honey as it contains antibacterial land antiviral elements. Garlic too helps to lower a fever by promoting sweating.
When to see the doctor?
While in most cases fevers can be treated at home by using home remedies, in some cases you need to seek medical help.
Call your doctor if –
- Your baby is less than three months old and has a rectal temperature of 100.4 °F.
- Your infant is between three to six months and has a temperature of 102 °F. If the baby is unusually irritable, lethargic and uncomfortable, check with your doctor.
- Your child is between six months to two years of age and has a temperature of 102 °F for more than one day. If this fever is accompanied by other symptoms like a cough, cold and diarrhea, you should check with your doctor sooner.
- Your newborn baby has a temperature lower than 97 °F.
Call the doctor if –
- Your child has a fever for more than three days.
- Your child has poor eye contact and appears listless.
- Your child has a severe headache, stomach ache or if he/she appears irritable and listless.
- Your child has a fever after he/she has been left in a hot car.
- Your child has immune system problems.
Call your doctor if –
- You have a temperature of more than 103 °F for more than three days.
- Your fever is accompanied by symptoms like a severe headache, throat swelling, unusual skin rash or sensitivity to light.
- You have a stiff neck and have difficulty in bending forward.
- You have difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, muscle weakness, and seizures when you have a fever.
Tips to prevent fevers
You can prevent fevers by reducing g your exposure to infectious diseases by following these tips:
- Wash your hands properly, especially after using the toilet and before you eat. If you have been out, met a sick person, have traveled in public transport or have been around pets, you must wash your hands.
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes. These are the three main ways through which bacteria and viruses enter the body.
- Avoid sharing water bottles, cups and cutlery with other people. Infection can be passed on through these means.
- Cover your mouth when your cough to avoid passing on the infection to others. Similarly, cover your nose when you sneeze. Teach these habits to your children to prevent passing infection to others.
- Carry a hand sanitizer where you do not have access to soap and water.
A fever is a standard response of the body to fight infections. You are considered to be running a fever if your thermometer registers 100.4 °F or higher.
Symptoms of fever include shivering, lack of appetite, dehydration, increased sensitivity to pain, lethargy, sleepiness, and sweating.
You can naturally bring down your temperature by resting, staying hydrated, taking a warm, relaxing bath, eating bland and nutritious foods, taking probiotics and herbal remedies, and keeping cool.