A fever is a sure sign that there’s something wrong in your body and that you’re fighting some form of bacteria or infection. Several conditions can cause a fever but most commonly we associate this with a flu or an allergic reaction.
In any case, fevers are unpleasant and they can actually be dangerous if they climb too high. So what methods are available to try and bring it down? How can you treat a fever naturally? And when should you start to worry?
What Is a Fever?
The first thing to address is precisely what a fever is. A fever is considered any temperature that is above 38C or 100.4F for an adult (with the average body temperature being 37C or 98.6F). A fever around these temperatures is not necessarily dangerous but if it exceeds 39.4C or 103F then you should call a doctor immediately. In young children a fever is more serious and more of a concern. If their temperature rises above 100F or 38C, then you should call a doctor straight away. Likewise, even if the temperature isn’t particularly high, you should still consider calling a doctor if you find that it isn’t getting any lower and if none of the strategies you are using to help are working. If it persists more than three days, this is usually the cut-off point at which you should see a doctor. The danger with a fever is that it can lead to dehydration, which is why a prolonged of a high temperature can be severe.
It’s also important to make sure that the fever is not a sign of a more serious condition such as malaria (unlikely, unless you have been travelling or live outside the US and Europe) or meningitis. Signs that this may be the problem include rashes, sensitivity to light, diarrhoea or neck pain.
That said, there are a number of symptoms that can present commonly alongside a fever including sweating, chills, goose-bumps, tiredness and aching muscles.
How to Treat Fevers Naturally
Only once you have ruled out the possibility of a more serious condition and only when the fever is within a safe range should you consider treating it yourself using natural strategies. But if your condition does fall into these categories, then there are a number of effective treatments you can use to help combat a fever and bring down a temperature.
But before we get started, note that it’s actually your own body causing the fever and not the infection or bacteria itself. What this means is that your body is intentionally using the fever to try and combat the illness and restore you to full health. And with that in mind, your objective isn’t to try and completely destroy the fever – it’s actually doing good work. Let the fever run its course and just focus on bringing it down to make yourself/your patient comfortable and to reduce the chances of dehydration.
Methods you can use to encourage this include:
Drinking Lots of Water
Remember, water is the main issue here and the main danger. It is absolutely essential to ensure you keep drinking plenty of water when you have a temperature. This will help to bring your core temperature down and at the same time, it will also help you to flush your system and fight the infection/disease that is causing the problem.
Another obvious thing to do is to try and stay cool. Try to avoid wearing woolly clothes and ensure that you have lots of fresh air circulating into the room. This will further help to prevent your temperature rising too much and thereby prevent dehydration.
At the same time though, you should also avoid the common practice of dabbing a cold, wet flannel on the forehead. This is something that a lot of people will assume is a good measure to combat a fever but in fact most medical experts agree that the sudden cold can actually produce too much of a shock and that it’s better to try and use gentler techniques.
Have a Lukewarm Bath
One other ‘gentler method’ then is to take a lukewarm bath. This will again help you to naturally regulate your temperature and can thereby help you to avoid getting too hot. It’s also generally nice and refreshing.
Fuel Up on Nutrients
Remember, that fever is caused by your body fighting something out of its system. If you have a cold, then you can speed up your recovery from the fever by giving your body the tools and weapons it needs to drive the cold out. Vitamins and minerals all help to do this by fortifying the immune system and can also help to prevent future illnesses!
Resting is also very important as this allows the body to focus on the illness and to recover rapidly. When you are active or stressed, you direct blood and energy away from secondary processes such as the immune system.
Some people find that applying essential oils to their skin can be calming and effective in treating fevers. While these won’t have massive effects on your recovery they can definitely be a useful aid and a comfort. The best oil for fever is eucalyptus which is often described as ‘fever oil’. That is a clue as to how useful it can be for combating fevers and if you apply it to the skin then you’ll find that the menthol is immediately calming and helps to make you feel a little less hot.
Another benefit of eucalyptus oil may come from its vasodilatory properties. It’s not clear how impactful these are when the oil is only applied topically but at least in theory, the oil should be able to widen the blood vessels (veins and arteries) thereby allowing more blood to circulate around the system and at the same time reducing the blood pressure.
Garlic may actually be helpful in combating a fever too. That’s because this actually is a vasodilator that is very effective when consumed and beetroot juice can do the same thing too. Both of these will help to thin the blood and thereby reduce fever and swelling. Combining garlic with vitamin C is thought to boost nitric oxide levels up to 200% according to some studies! (1)
While this isn’t a natural treatment it has to be included here as arguably the best strategy and the one recommended by most doctors. Ibuprofen is an analgesic meaning that it can help to reduce pain and discomfort associated with fever – ideal if you have muscle soreness. At the same time, it is also a blood thinner which makes it even more effective at reducing the temperature. This should be your first strategy along with water for treating fevers at home.
Also, you should be careful when combining ibuprofen with garlic, beetroot juice or eucalyptus. Combining a blood thinner with a vasodilator can lower the blood pressure too much, hence leaving you light-headed.