Conventional and Alternative Treatment for Fever

Abnormalities in body temperature can pose problems to human health. Temperatures lower or higher than the normal body temperature can cause harm to brain and body cells if not treated or addressed properly. Anything that falls below normal body temperature is called hypothermia, where a person feels cold and clammy. A temperature higher than the normal range is called hyperthermia, where a person experiences an elevation or rise in body heat. Hyperthermia can cause pyrexia—the condition of having a fever—if the elevation in temperature progresses and is not managed properly. Extremes in both temperature changes can lead to irreversible effects on a person’s physical health and wellness.

 

Though both hypothermia and hyperthermia can happen to any person, the most common temperature problem that leads to health complications is pyrexia due to unresolved hyperthermia, especially in children. This is because fevers are more difficult to manage than the feeling of cold.

 

Fever is a manifestation of an existing health problem that should be corrected or treated, like a viral or bacterial infection. Though it is important to control the fever, the only sure way to resolve it is to treat the underlying illness. Fever can be treated or managed in several conventional and alternative ways.

 

Conventional fever management:

 

  • Apply cool or cold compress. A cold compress can be done in different ways. If a person is having an average-grade fever, a cool compress can be done by dampening a clean cloth with cold water and dabbing it on the person’s pulse points to absorb heat from the body. The cloth should be dampened again in the cold water once it turns warm and reapplied on the person. For high-grade fevers that are worrisome, it would be better to use an ice-pack or ice bottle to quickly cool the person down. The ice-pack should be covered with a clean towel upon application because direct skin contact may cause blotching or even bruising. A cold compress should be continuously applied and reapplied until the temperature finally drops back to the normal range.
  • Increase water or fluid intake. Fever causes fluids in the body to evaporate. This is an adaptive process where the heat is lessened by letting the fluids absorb the heat and then release it from the body through evaporation. If this process continues, a person may become severely dehydrated and the heat may no longer be exhausted from the body. By increasing the person’s fluid intake, dehydration is prevented and the adaptive mechanism of evaporation will continue to work and help with heat loss.
  • Give paracetamol or ibuprofen. Another quick way to relieve fever is by giving anti-pyretic (anti-pyrexia or anti-fever) over-the-counter medications like paracetamol (acetaminophen) and ibuprofen. These medical drugs work on the body by directly influencing the hypothalamus, which is the section of the brain that regulates body temperature, to lower or decrease the production of temperature-stimulating hormones.
  • Encourage rest. Rest is important for a person experiencing fever. Resting reduces the body’s metabolic activities, which can cause the body temperature to rise. Rest is also helpful in allowing the body to heal and recover from the physical stress caused by the fever.

 

Alternative or complementary fever treatments:

 

  • Use herbs. Several herbs can be used to help regulate and lower the body’s temperature. Herbs that help with fever include elderflower tea and garlic. Both of these herbs help a person to heal from fever because of their anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties that help fight the cause of the illness and support the body in recovering.
  • Encourage vitamin intake. Certain vitamins like vitamin A and vitamin C are helpful in managing and preventing fever-causing infections. These vitamins have anti-oxidant properties that aid in cell regeneration, resistance, and healing.

 

These fever management interventions should be supplemented by regular monitoring of the body temperature. The only way to ensure that your interventions are working or taking effect is to take the person’s body temperature every hour. If the person’s temperature still remains high after your interventions, medical attention would be required to promptly control and treat the problem.

 

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Taking an Infant’s Body Temperature

First-time parents are quick to panic when their baby’s temperature rises beyond what is usual. If you are one such parent, remember that the normal body temperature for infants, although similar to that of adults, usually fluctuates several times a day.

 

This happens because a baby’s body is more sensitive to the rise and dip of temperature in his immediate surroundings. This means that when you take an infant into an air-conditioned room, his body temperature may also fall below the average. It also means that taking the baby out on a stroll on a hot afternoon may induce his body temperature to rise to more than normal.

 

Fever in Infants

 

Fevers are a common occurrence in both infants and very young children. Symptoms that your child has higher than the normal body temperature for infants include but are not limited to his skin feeling hot to the touch (or at least hotter than usual), clammy or sweaty skin, and flushed cheeks.

 

A fever in an infant is not always a bad thing. Fevers alert the parents that their child’s body is fighting an infection. If the child has been vaccinated recently, a slight chill means that the vaccine is working properly.

 

When you see any or a combination of these symptoms, it is best that you immediately measure your infant’s body temperature to monitor his condition.

 

Taking an Infant’s Body Temperature

 

The normal body temperature for infants may range from 37°C to 37.5°C, give or take a few points. Any higher than that may mean that the infant is suffering from a fever, and any lower means that the baby is experiencing some other form of illness.

 

To check your baby’s temperature, you can use a number of different thermometers. These are usually available in most supermarkets and local pharmacies.

 

Below are the most common types of thermometers you can use:

 

Digital Thermometers

 

Digital thermometers are the safest way to measure if your baby’s temperature is higher than the normal body temperature for infants. They are also relatively easy to use.

 

To use a digital thermometer, hold your baby on your knee and place the thermometer under his armpit. Keep his arm in place for about fifteen seconds. Some digital thermometers emit a ping to indicate that they are done measuring your child’s temperature. You can easily check the readings in the thermometer’s display.

 

Mercury Thermometers

 

Mercury thermometers work in the same way as digital thermometers in that you have to keep them under the baby’s armpit. The disadvantage of using this kind of thermometer is there is a risk of the glass breaking, which may cause the mercury to seep into the skin of the infant. Because of this, most pharmacies stopped selling them and replaced them with digital thermometers instead.

 

Strip-type Thermometers

 

Strip-type thermometers are placed on the forehead of the infant. The problem with this type of thermometer is that it reads the temperature of the skin and not of the body. Thus, your baby may actually have the normal body temperature for infants and the thermometer will still read him as feverish because his skin is hot.

 

 

It is advisable that you use just one type of thermometer to monitor your infant’s body temperature regularly. This will make your readings more consistent and accurate, compared to when you use different types during different readings.

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