How to Break a Fever: Treatment for Various Age Groups

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How to Break a Fever
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A fever is the body’s physical way to fight an infection, and in most cases, breaking a fever does not require medical treatment. It is actually better to allow a low-grade fever to run its course. There are natural ways on how to break a fever and treat any accompanying symptoms and possibly the underlying cause.

What is a fever? Also known as pyrexia, a fever refers to an internal body temperature that is at a higher than normal level. The core temperature rises with the presence of an illness, an underlying health condition, in response to hot external environments, or as a reaction to consumption of certain foods or medications.

The body responds with a fever as a defensive mechanism to fight foreign invaders. It indicates the immune system is functioning as it should. It raises the body temperature to what is a high fever of 100.4° F (38°C) or above.

A fever may have accompanying symptoms of chills, fatigue, and possible body aches, depending on the cause of the rise of the body temperature.


Normal Temperature Ranges

Body temperature can vary among individuals but is gauged at an average of 98.6° F (37°C). To recognize a fever temperature, follow the guidelines of normal temperature ranges for different parts of the body below.

  • Rectum: 97.9 – 100.3°F
  • Armpit: 94.5 – 99.1°F
  • Mouth: 95.9 – 99.5°F
  • Ear: 96.4 – 100.4°F

So, what is a high fever? Simply follow these guidelines for the varying degrees of fever:

  • A low-grade fever runs between 8 – 100.6°F
  • A mild fever runs between 101 – 102°F
  • A moderate fever runs between 102 – 103°F
  • A high fever runs above 103°F

Among the elderly, body temperature can vary due to the type of medications and pain relievers ingested such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin. Fever in the elderly can be present when the temperature rises more than 2°F above normal or can develop when the temperature is orally registered more than 99°F.

 

How to Break a Fever

If prescribed or over-the-counter medications are needed for discomfort or other symptoms, there are precautions to take. Aspirin is not to be given to anyone under the age of 18 to fight a fever as it has been linked to a rare, life-threatening conditions known as Reye’s syndrome.

Reye’s syndrome is seen mostly in young children but can develop during the teenage years. It causes the brain and liver to become inflamed, and often develops during recovery from the chickenpox, flu, or other viral infection. Signs to watch for include loss of consciousness, seizures, and confusion.

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A mild fever should be allowed to run its course naturally as the body works against the imposing invader. Try some of these home remedies for fever.

1. Get Plenty of Rest

When resting, our body’s defenses work hard to fight any foreign developments by producing more white blood cells. These cells destroy bacterial and viral invaders. Also, the brain is stimulated during sleep to release hormones that help to create new tissue cells.

For a proper and quick recovery, the body requires seven to nine hours of sound sleep every night. This is one of the easiest, natural, and enjoyable ways to get rid of fever episodes.

Be sure to stay home from work or school, as the illness causing the fever may be contagious. Resting throughout the entire day can also help the body recover.

2. Keep Hydrated

Often with a fever, the body will lose essential nutrients and water through perspiration. So, maintain hydration by drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day. This will also eliminate toxins that build up and cause the fever.

Water is a great choice, and coconut water is even better as it contains electrolytes. Also, avoid drinking sports drinks, as the body may respond with inflammation due to the chemical and sugar content.

This sugar, known as glucose sugar, and the natural sugar found in fruit juice, can have bacteria attached to it. Also, you should dilute any fruit juice given to children with one equal part of water.

3. Drink Herbal Tea

By drinking herbal tea, the body will stay hydrated, and the hot drink will stimulate sweating which in turn cools the body temperature.

Enjoy sipping on peppermint, ginger, cinnamon, lemon, Echinacea, thyme, oregano, or red clover tea.

4. Consume Bland Foods

A fever often makes you lose your appetite, but it is important to maintain strength and restore lost nutrients.

Avoid refined, sugary foods. Instead, choose bland foods such as bone broth, fruit juice popsicles, and gluten-free oatmeal.

5. Include Probiotics

The properties of live bacteria and yeast in probiotics help treat illnesses, especially in the stomach. Probiotics also help to support the immune system, which can be threatened by the presence of a fever.

Consume miso soup or kombucha for a good dose of probiotics.

6. Bathe

If you’re wondering how to reduce a fever naturally, then having a warm bath or sponge bath is one of the best ways. Lukewarm water helps with high fevers, as cold water causes shivering and water that is too hot can cause a significant rise in the body temperature.

Add a few drops of essential oil such as peppermint or lavender, as well as Epsom salts to soothe achy muscles. Repeat with fresh warm water when the water becomes cool.

7. Wet Socks

Now, for those who are wondering how to break a fever in adults, try wearing cold, wet socks to bed. The coldness boosts the functioning of the immune system and promotes proper blood circulation.

Doing this may not directly impact the fever, but the accompanying symptoms that may be causing the fever may be alleviated. These include an infection, inflammation, sore throat, congestion, headache, and coughing.

Simply soak a pair of cotton socks in a basin of cold water and squeeze out the excess water. Put the socks on at bedtime and cover them with a pair of wool socks to act as insulation.

 

Fever Treatment Guide

Bookmark or print out the following chart to keep on hand to know what to do when you have a fever.

Age Temperature What To Do
0-3 Months 100.4 F (38 C) or higher, taken rectally Call the doctor, even if there are no other signs or symptoms.
3-6 Months Up to 102 F (38.9 C), taken rectally

 

 

 

 

 

Encourage rest and plenty of fluids; medication isn’t needed. Call the doctor if irritable, lethargic or uncomfortable.

 

 

Above 102 F (38.9 C), taken rectally Call the doctor; he or she may recommend an exam.

 

6-24 Months Above 102 F (38.9 C) taken rectally Give acetaminophen; child is age 6 months or older, ibuprofen can be given. Call the doctor if the fever doesn’t respond to the medication or lasts longer than one day.
2-17 Years Up to 102 F (38.9 C), taken rectally for children age 3 and younger, or taken orally for children older than 3

 

 

Encourage rest and plenty of fluids; medication isn’t needed. Call the doctor if irritable, lethargic or significant discomfort.

 

 

Above 102 F (38.9 C), taken rectally for children age 3 and younger, or taken orally for children older than 3 Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Read the label carefully for proper dosage, and be careful not to give more than one medication containing acetaminophen, such as some cough and cold medicines. Call the doctor if the fever doesn’t respond to the medication or lasts longer than three days.
18 and up Up to 102 F (38.9 C), taken orally

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rest and drink plenty of fluids; medication isn’t needed. Call the doctor if the fever is accompanied by a severe headache, stiff neck, shortness of breath, or other unusual signs or symptoms.

 

 

Above 102 F (38.9 C), taken orally Take acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin. Read the label carefully for proper dosage, and be careful not to take more than one medication containing acetaminophen, such as some cough and cold medicines. Call the doctor if the fever doesn’t respond to the medication, is consistently 103 F (39.4 C) or higher, or lasts longer than three days.

 


Fever Causes

Our body responds to an illness by increasing internal temperature which presents as a fever. Low-grade fevers are normal and should be left untreated for the body to defend itself naturally.

Most cases of higher than normal temperatures are caused by mild viral and bacterial infections. These can include ear infections, respiratory infections, sinus infections, urinary tract infections, bone infections, pneumonia, tuberculosis, bronchitis, mononucleosis, and bacterial and viral gastroenteritis.

In these cases, the body allows the temperature to rise above 98.6°F, as bacteria and viruses cannot thrive in temperatures above this. Fevers caused by infections infrequently rise more than 105°F unless the environment is hot.

A rare, but serious, infection that may cause brain damage only exists when the fever rises to 107.6°F (42°C).

A fever can also be caused by a person’s lifestyle and activity choices as the core body temperature can be raised above normal. Here are some factors that can cause a fever or your body temperature to rise:

  • The time of day as temperature often rises in the afternoon.
  • Eating a meal at any time of the day.
  • Menstruation can cause the body temperature to increase by at least one degree.
  • Extreme emotions such as anger, anxiety, sadness, and high excitement can cause the core temperature to rise.
  • Doing physical activities such as sports or a workout routine.
  • Wearing excess layers of clothing or heavy jackets.
  • Taking certain medications such as antihistamines, antibiotics, and those for seizure conditions.
  • High environmental temperatures such as high humidity.
  • Teething in young children.
  • Autoimmune and inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, thrombophlebitis, vasculitis, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis.

A fever may be caused by a form of cancer such as Hodgkin’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, or leukemia. Cancer fevers usually last more than several weeks.

 

When to Call a Doctor

With a high temperature, knowing when to seek emergency care can prevent further complications and even life-threatening conditions. Seek help if the temperature is over 105°F (40.5°C), or if the person is confused, has chest pains and difficulty breathing, or consistent vomiting.

Here are other times when to worry about a fever.

Under Five Years of Age

  • Under three months-old with a temperature of 100.4°F or higher, even with no other symptoms
  • Three to 24 months-old with a temperature of 102°F or higher, even with no other symptoms
  • Two to five years-old with a temperature of 102°F or higher, or with a fever lasting more than three days

Five Years and Older

  • Temperature of 104°F or higher, lasting more than two hours after treatment
  • A fever lasting more than three days
  • Inability to drink or keep fluids down
  • Significant mood changes
  • Involuntary shaking, twitching, or convulsions
  • Light sensitivity
  • A stiff neck
  • Severe headaches
  • Skin rashes
  • Throat swelling
  • Lethargy after the fever has broken
  • Returning fever symptoms
  • Had recent immunization shots
  • Inability to urinate
  • Difficulty walking
  • A fever with existing health conditions like diabetes, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, or heart disease

Fevers can be scary, especially in young children when it rises to high temperatures. Understanding the varying degrees and grades of fever can help determine how to break a fever naturally.

Depending on the age of the individual, and if there are any existing health conditions, a fever of an extremely high temperature may require immediate medical condition. However, most fevers are mild cases that need no treatment and are best left to disappear on their own.

Simple home remedies like rest, fluids, and warm baths can help reduce a fever quickly, as well as help you return to normal activities within a short time.

Related Articles:

6 Natural Remedies to Fight a Fever

What Is Rheumatic Fever? The Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment


Sources
“Fever and the Flu,” Massachusetts Department of Health, Fall 2007; http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dph/cdc/flu/fever-factsheet.pdf, last accessed August 24, 2017.
“I Have A Fever,” The Catholic University of America; http://health.cua.edu/selfhelp/fever.cfm, last accessed August 24, 2017.
“Reye’s Syndrome,” Mayo Clinic; http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/reyes-syndrome/basics/definition/con-20020083, last accessed August 24, 2017.
Pham, H., “34 Ways on how to break a fever in adults naturally,” VKOOL, January 27, 2017; http://vkool.com/how-to-break-a-fever/, last accessed August 24, 2017.
“Fever Facts,” WebMD; http://www.webmd.com/first-aid/fevers-causes-symptoms-treatments#2-5, last accessed August 24, 2017.
Villines, D., “How To Break A Fever: Treatment Tips for Various Ages,” Medical News Today web site, February 9, 2017; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/315706.php#When%20does%20a%20fever%20need%20treatment, last accessed August 24, 2017.
“Fever Treatment: Quick guide to treating a fever,” Mayo Clinic; http://www.mayo.edu/diseases-conditions/fever/in-depth/fever/art-20050997, last accessed August 24, 2017.

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