Fevers play a very useful role in helping your body fight off infections naturally. Although many people worry when they or their children have a fever, it’s good to remember that fevers generally work for us, not against us, so not all cases require breaking a fever. So if you are interested in how to reduce a fever, you should also realize that it isn’t always the right thing to do. In this article, we will examine the role of fever in our body, natural ways to break a fever, and when to seek medical advice.
What is the temperature of a fever?
Your body temperature can be measured in many places on your body. The most common places are the mouth, ear, armpit, and rectum. Temperature can also be measured on the forehead.
A rectal or ear reading of body temperature is slightly higher than an oral temperature reading.
In most adults, an oral temperature of more than 38° C (100.4° F), or a rectal or ear temperature greater than 38.3° C (101° F) is considered a fever. A child has a fever when their rectal temperature is 38° C (100.4° F) or higher.
According to Dr. Charles Patrick Davis, fever values may vary somewhat depending on the condition and age of the patient, but can be divided into three groups: “low”, “high” and “dangerous” fever.
- Low grade fever ranges from about 37.70° C to 38.30° C (99.86° F to 100.94° F)
- 98 is middle level for adults, but it is a temperature at which adults should seek medical attention if they have a baby (0-6 months).
- High grade fevers range from around 39.40° C to 40° C (102.92° F to 104° F)
- Dangerous fevers are high temperatures ranging from 40° C to 41.6° C (104° F to 106.88° F) or higher (extremely high fevers are also called hyperpyrexia).
Normal body temperature is actually the perfect temperature for most viruses and bacteria to thrive. So when you have an infection, your body temperature rises to try to stop the infection, and when the infection is gone, your temperature should turn to normal.
Although we tend to think that we must always treat a fever, there are circumstances in which it is not necessary to reduce it.
When not to lower a fever
Doctors and scientists have determined that a fever is the immune system’s natural response to infections and that most low-grade fevers are not something to worry about.
Professor John Wherry, Ph.D., published his findings in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology in connection with fever and the immune system. He said that the immune system is actually increased when our body temperature rises. He added that it is, of course, very important to handle very high body temperatures, as they can be dangerous. However, he encouraged people to think about how to relieve lower fevers.
In fact, taking medications to reduce a mild fever may actually keep you sick longer. The University of Maryland conducted research on patients who had the flu and took anti-fever medications. They found that while the anti-fever drugs helped people feel better faster, patients were sick longer. Other studies have estimated that suppression of fever actually increases annual cases of influenza by approximately 5%.
That is why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that, when it comes to breaking a fever, you should focus on improving a child’s overall comfort rather than normalizing their body temperature.
5 natural ways to reduce fever when necessary
Therefore, if you or your child have mild fever, it’s a good idea to listen to what the body is saying. The fever forces you to take it easy, so that you rest and allow the body to take the time to recover. You should also drink plenty of fluids. A mild fever will help kill the viruses and bacteria that are making you sick.
Rest to reduce fever
It’s important to rest properly if you have a fever. During this time, you should check your body temperature every 2 hours to make sure the temperature is not dangerously high. Make sure you stay hydrated as you will lose fluids through sweat.
While you are resting, a cold, wet compress can be put on your or your child’s forehead to reduce fever.
Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, Dr. Neil K. Kaneshiro, recommends removing excess clothing and blankets and keeping the room at a reasonable temperature. If the weather is hot and stuffy, then a fan can help cool the air.
Take a shower or bath
Taking a bath is a great way to reduce a fever. Fill a tub with warm water and soak in it. The warm water will help you relax and while the water cools, your body temperature will, too.
Now, having a cold bath or shower can have the opposite effect because it can make you shiver, which will raise your body temperature, so don’t use cold baths, ice or friction with alcohol.
For children, pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu recommends giving your child a bath with warm water or a sponge bath with warm water. This will help lower their body temperature and reduce fever when water evaporates from their skin.
Wet socks to reduce fever
This method is a traditional naturopathic approach to reduce fever and it involves sleeping in a pair of wet socks. To do this, you need a pair of cotton socks that cover the ankles.
First, wet the socks in cold water and then drain the excess. Put the socks on your feet and then put a pair of wool socks over them to insulate them. Dr. James Wallace, PhD in Naturopathic Medicine, says that the body reacts to cold socks by increasing blood circulation, which also stimulates the immune system.
While this method will not help reduce fever directly, it helps treat inflammation, infection, sore throat, headaches, migraines, nasal congestion, upper respiratory tract infections, cough, bronchitis and sinus infections.
Eat the right kinds of foods
It is a well-known fact that certain foods can have an impact on the body’s immune system. In fact, scientific studies seem to support the old advice of “feed a cold and starve a fever.”
When the body is hungry, it releases more cells that help boost the immune system. Also, when the body digests food, energy is wasted in the digestion process and you want your energy to be used to control the infection that is causing the fever.
Therefore, to keep your immune system healthy, you should continue to eat small amounts of nutritious food. Eat fruits that are rich in vitamin C, which is one of the natural substances that boost your immune system, and will help keep you hydrated and lower your fever.
Foods rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits, broccoli, guava, kiwi, strawberries, peppers, papaya and berries (which are especially rich in vitamin C).
Another great remedy if you are suffering from an infection is to eat chicken soup.
In the journal Chest, Dr. Stephen Rennard has published his findings that chicken soup has effects on flu symptoms. He observed that it could be a combination of the vegetables and chicken which helps stimulate the body’s immune response. Another reason to eat soup when you have a fever is that the liquid in the soup helps keep you hydrated and warm, it helps reduce congestion and lower the fever.
When it comes to eating, it’s important to listen to your body and not overeat, which will overexert your immune system.
Drink herbal tea to reduce fever
Herbal teas will keep you hydrated and can help reduce a fever by promoting sweating, which helps to cool the body and keep the fever from rising too much. Some of the best herbal teas to lower a fever are:
- Red clover
You can try preparing a special ginger tea for this using lemon.
Fever – When to see a doctor
It is important to remember that, although a little fever usually goes away on its own and helps the body get rid of infection, a very high temperature can cause serious complications. Therefore, it is always important to control body temperature.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you call a doctor immediately if your child:
- Is less than 3 months old and has a temperature of 38.0° C (100.4° F) or higher
- Fever rises above 40° C (104° F) several times in a child of any age
- You should also consult your doctor if your child is drowsy
- Has a headache
- Has an unexplained rash
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Seek advice if fever persists for more than 24 hours in a child younger than 2 years
- When fever persists for more than 3 days in a child 2 years of age or older.
You should also be prepared to tell the doctor the exact temperature and where the temperature was taken, i.e., the mouth, rectum, armpit, forehead, etc.
For adults, if you have a fever of more than 39.4° C (102.9° F) that keeps rising, you should call a doctor, or if the fever lasts for more than seven days or the symptoms of the fever get worse.