Inspired by recent events with my pediatric patients and their parents I decided to post a blog about how to handle fevers.
Fevers are defined as 100.4 F and above. In neurologically normal patients brain damage does not occur with a fever unless it is over 107.6. Untreated fevers caused by infection will stay under 105.
High temperatures kill viruses and bacteria and is a sign that the immune system is working, building strength, and fighting. As a natural health care practitioner I advise my patients to let a fever run it's course. Using medication such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can prolong the illness and leave toxins in the body, but are only to be used as a last resort. Here are a few tools to put in your box when fever strikes in your home:
When treating an adult use the cold wet sock method. Soak a pair of thin socks in ice water while taking 5-10 mins hot bath. Dry entire body completely before putting the cold wrung out wet socks on. Place a thicker pair of wool socks over the thin socks and put on a pair of pajamas and go directly to bed. Cover up completely and make sure to stay warm. You may wake up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat so change into a dry set of pajamas if that happens, but leave the soaks on. In the morning, the socks should be dry and the fever abated.
For children, do not use ice water, use fresh squeezed lemon with hot water to wet the socks or a cloth to wrap around the child's feet. Cover with a thicker pair of socks. The soaks will dry quickly. Monitor your child and repeat until demeanor changes and fever reduces. They do not need to take a bath before, but can take a lukewarm bath which can help with hydration and can even bring the fever down. The most important thing is to keep children hydrated, and comfortable. Babies can run anywhere between 97.7 to 100.4 as normal. Greater than 100.4 for a newborn and greater than 102.2 for 3-12 months needs to be taken to the MD immediately. Neurologically normal children can have a fever for 4-5 days and not require western medical intervention. If the child's demeanor or energy levels are not normal at any point during an illness or fever there is cause for concern and a MD visit may be warranted. These symptoms include extreme sleepiness and difficult to arouse, unusually irritable and truly inconsolable, confused and unable to respond to questions as to who or where they are, and is not making good eye contact.
Using acupuncture, or acupressure may also work wonders on fevers, along with essential oil massage along the spine. I suggest a base oil of coconut oil, or shea butter mixed with peppermint or lavender. Acupuncture points such as St 36, Lu 7, Li 4 are good to stimulate. Homeopathics Belladonna, Aconite, or Pulsatila can be helpful.
What to drink and eat:
Water, water, and more water
Homemade soups and broths
Herbal teas, coconut water, watered down juice
Lightly steamed vegetables, grains that are well tolerated for the patient such as brown rice
No dairy, sugar, alcohol
Always remember that the body is designed to heal itself and there are many natural herbal remedies in Traditional Chinese Medicine that will assist the body in fighting bacteria, and viruses. Work with your local herbalist and acupuncturist for correct constitutional diagnosis to design a formula best suited for you.
Lisa Swanson L.Ac. treats patients at her acupuncture clinic in Grass Valley, CA and is available for Skype sessions.