As I write this, I spent two days earlier this week holding my toddler almost around the clock as he suffered through a virus with fever and congestion. I know viruses love new hosts so now it’s my turn. Stuffy, cough, and a fever that I can’t get under 100 F. So if I start to ramble it’s the fever talking. …
Speaking of, the number one question I heard when in retail, what’s the best way to bring a fever down?
I think the better first question is when do you treat a fever?
We all know that normal temp is 98.6, however you can run a degree above or below and be normal. Low grade fever is anything less than 100.4 and really should be left untreated unless highly uncomfortable. Remember it’s your bodies natural fighting mechanism and actually works better at the higher temp. Between 100.4 and 104 should be treated but again only if they are causing discomfort or in a child with history of febrile seizures. It also may not be possible to bring the body all the way back to “normal” and that’s ok! Lastly any fever above 104 warrants immediate medical attention.
So now we have the definition down, if we want to treat what do we do?
Natural treatment shown to be just as effective as medications is a tepid water bath (around 85 F).
You can also use a cooling spray like a few drops of peppermint oil in tepid water sprayed down the back.
Important, never use rubbing alcohol to bring down a fever. This is an old wives tale that can be dangerous due to the inhalation of fumes.
If you want to go more traditional:
Acetaminophen (Tylenol and others) can be used to lower a fever. The recommended pediatric dose can be suggested by the child’s pediatrician. Adults without liver disease or other health problems can take 1,000 mg (two “extra-strength” tablets) every six hours or as directed by a physician. The makers of Tylenol state that the maximum recommended dose of acetaminophen per day is 3,000 mg, or six extra-strength tablets per 24 hours, unless directed by a doctor. Regular strength Tylenol tablets are 325 mg; the recommended dosage for these is two tablets every four to six hours, not to exceed 10 tablets per 24 hours.
Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) can also be used to break a fever in patients over 6 months of age. Discuss the best dose with a doctor. For adults, generally 400 mg-600 mg (two to three 200 mg tablets) can be used every six hours as fever reducers.
Now that we have treated ( or not treated) the fever, what’s next? Drink lots of fluids, get lots of rest, and wait it out.
When do you call the doctor for yourself or child? If one or more is true:
Has a temperature of 104 F or higher
Is under 3 months old and has a temperature of 100.4 F or higher
Has a fever that lasts for more than 72 hours (or more than 24 hours if your child is under age 2)
Has a fever along with other symptoms such as a stiff neck, extremely sore throat, ear pain, rash, or severe headache
Has a seizure
Seems very sick, upset, or unresponsive