When a fever develops, what should you do? Here's some advice:
Don't force yourself under cover. Shivers are your body's way of creating heat to boost your temperature, so if your teeth are chattering or you feel chilled, by all means, cover up to make yourself more comfortable. However, once your fever is established and you start feeling hot, bundling yourself in bed under a pile of blankets will only hold the heat in and likely make you feel worse. You can't "sweat out a fever," or get a fever to break by forcing your body temperature up even higher. So if you feel as though you're burning up, toss off those covers or use a single, light sheet.
Undress. With your body exposed as much as possible, your sweat glands will be better able to release moisture, which will make you feel more comfortable. Strip down to your skivvies -- that means a diaper for an infant and underpants and thin undershirt for an older child or adult.
Dip. Sponge yourself with tepid water or, better yet, sit in a tub of coolish water (definitely not ice cold water, which can induce shock) for half an hour. If you put a feverish child in a tub or sink of water, be sure to hold the child. Don't apply an alcohol rub, because it can be absorbed into the skin and cause alcohol poisoning.
Sip. Fever, especially if it is accompanied by vomiting or diarrhea, can lead to fluid loss and an electrolyte imbalance, so it's important to keep drinking. Cool water is best, but unsweetened juices are okay if that's what tastes good. Getting a child to drink plenty of water is sometimes difficult, so try Popsicles or flavored ices that are made primarily of water.
Starve a fever. The old folk advice to "feed a cold, starve a fever" may not have been off the mark. Medical experts now believe that during periods of fever caused by infection, the body may do better without outside nutrition (provided you were reasonably well nourished before you got sick). During infection, your body actually sends certain nutrients such as iron and zinc into hiding; it turns out that these nutrients are essential for the growth of many infectious organisms. So by stoking up with foods and nutritional supplements during an infection, you may be helping disease-causing organisms to flourish. (Your body will tell you when it's time to start eating again.)
Resort to over-the-counter relief. If a fever is making you or your child very uncomfortable, a nonprescription antipyretic (fever-reducing) drug can be used. Antipyretics seek out the troublemaking pyrogen and put it out of commission. Aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen are all antipyretics. Aspirin and ibuprofen also have an anti-inflammatory action, which can be an advantage in certain illnesses, such as an abscess, that may cause fever. However, do not give aspirin products to children under 19 years of age, because of the risk of a potentially fatal condition known as Reye syndrome; stick with acetaminophen for children. Also, be sure to follow package directions carefully. For a list of precautions to take when using over-the-counter analgesics, click here.
Let it run. Bear in mind that antipyretics are designed to make you (or yours) feel more comfortable during the course of a fever. The fact is, however, that fever may do an ailing body some good by making it less hospitable to the infecting organism, so you may want to let it run its course rather than rushing to bring it down with medications.
Some fevers are mild, and can be easily treated by the suggestions on this page. In fact, you can use items from your kitchen to make yourself feel better. Go to the next page to find out what.
For more information on conditions commonly associated with fever, try the following links:
- To see all of our home remedies and the conditions they treat, go to our main Home Remedies page.
- Fevers are an important aspect of your body's attempts to fight off illnesses. Herbal Remedies for Fevers won't actually help you fight a fever, but rather help the fever run its course.
- Find out how to prevent respiratory infections and stay healthy.
- Learn how you can prevent the flu, and keep your immune system strong.
- Read about great Home Remedies for the Flu, and get great ideas on helping yourself heal.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.