Feeling under the weather? Don’t reduce your fever with pills.
Our superstar editor, Stephanie, had a fever from the flu the other night while outside her window sat 18 inches of Maryland snow. Her remedy? Baths and sleep.
The simplicity of her approach and my realization that I haven’t had a fever in a long, long time got me wondering and researching what causes fevers and how to naturally respond to them. I always want to be prepared in case one should arise.
Fevers are a symptom of an underlying condition. Far from being dangerous, they can actually be beneficial. From Wellnessmama.com:
Fever is a natural response to infection or illness. Many illnesses thrive at normal body temperature, and a fever (even a high one) is a good indication that the immune system is functioning to ward off the infection. In fact, a fever is a good sign as it means that the body is responding to fight the infection, and in most cases it is part of a natural bodily response that should be allowed to continue.
If we get sick due to a bacterial or viral infection, we want our body to produce a fever. Knocking it out too early with medications could prolong the illness.
In fact, new studies suggest that there’s another concern with taking medication to reduce fevers. From USA Today:
…those who take anti-fever medications release more influenza virus into the environment than people who forgo drugs. The impact isn’t negligible. Use of anti-fever drugs, technically known as anti-pyretics, raises the number of flu cases by roughly 5% a year, translating to more than 1,000 additional deaths in the USA annually for a garden-variety flu strain
That being said, a fever combined with the other symptoms of an infection can be uncomfortable and unpleasant. I’m constantly looking for natural remedies to replace over the counter medicine. I’ve posted about anti-inflammatory foods in lieu of Advil, for example. There are some options to help promote faster recovery.
The first one is fairly obvious.
“Let’s get the liquids in because if we are running a fever, typically we are dehydrating our body,” says Dr. Jeanne Galloway, N.D.
Stephanie had been downing fluids in the form of mostly water and the occasional tea and was STILL dehydrated! I asked her about her experience with this and her food intake.
“Consuming a bunch of water didn’t do much for the fever itself, but it helped minimize some of the misery it carried with it,” she told me. “I didn’t have much of an appetite. Since I wasn’t eating much, I wanted to make sure that whatever I did eat had plenty of nutrition. My go-to is homemade chicken broth with salt and garlic.”
She was certainly on the right track.
From various sources, I found the following suggestions.
- Probiotics – foods like yogurt, kefir, fermented cabbage and kombucha tea.
- Lots of bone broth and homemade soups to nourish and provide nutrients that aid in healing.
- Coconut oil mixed in to food for its antibacterial and antiviral properties.
It turns out Stephanie was right on with the baths, but Dr. Galloway suggests a tepid bath rather than a hot or cold one. Adding a little lavender essential oil adds a cooling effect.
“Sometimes being sick is about tradeoffs,” Stephanie mentioned. “For me, a hot bath helped with the muscle aches, even if a tepid one might have worked better to bring the fever down.”
Even though our fevers serve a purpose, and the likelihood of it needing to run its course is high, I’m a fan of action. We should at least make an attempt to feel better and do so naturally. Applying effort and acquiring the experience of the attempt builds confidence, after all.