If your forehead is fiery with fever, you could reach for acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) to lower your temperature.
But if your fever is 38.3°C (101°F) or below, don’t be afraid to let it run its course. If you’re uncomfortable, though, and you want to take action, try these tips for home remedies that can help to tame the fire.
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Take a bath in lukewarm water. This temperature will feel plenty cool when you have a fever, and the bath should help bring your body temperature down. Don’t try to bring a fever down rapidly by plunging yourself into cold water; that tactic sends blood rushing to internal organs, which is how your body defends itself from cold. Your interior actually warms up instead of cooling down.
Give yourself a sponge bath. Sponging high-heat areas like your armpits and groin with cool water can help reduce your temperature as the water evaporates.
When you’re not bathing, place cold, damp washcloths on your forehead and the back of your neck.
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Brew a cup of yarrow tea. This herb opens your pores and triggers the sweating that is said to move a fever toward its end. Steep a tablespoon of herb in a cup of freshly boiled water for 10 minutes. Let cool. Drink a cup or two until you start to sweat.
Another herb, elderflower, also helps you sweat. And it happens to be good for other problems associated with flu and colds, like overproduction of mucus. To make elderflower tea, mix two teaspoons of the herb in a cup of boiled water and let it steep for 15 minutes. Strain out the elderflower. Drink three times a day as long as the fever continues. Elderberries are also high in immunity-building antioxidants.
Drink a cup of hot ginger tea, which also induces sweating. To make the tea, steep a half-teaspoon minced ginger root in 1 cup just-boiled water. Strain, then drink.
Willow bark is a natural alternative to Aspirin and can help ease a headache. Consume it as a tincture, in powdered form or as a tea.
Sprinkle cayenne pepper on your foods when you have a fever. One of its main components is capsaicin, the alarmingly hot ingredient that’s found in hot peppers. Cayenne makes you sweat and also promotes rapid blood circulation.
Try the wet-sock treatment, a popular home remedy for fever. First, warm your feet in hot water. Then soak a thin pair of cotton socks in cold water, wring them out, and slip them on just before going to bed. Put a pair of dry wool socks over the wet ones. This approach helps ease a fever by drawing blood to the feet, which dramatically increases blood circulation.
Another way to draw blood to the feet is with a mustard footbath. In a basin large enough for your feet, add two teaspoons of mustard powder to four cups of hot water, then soak.
(Related: What Really Happens to Your Body When You Have a Fever)
An old folk remedy for treating a fever is to soak a sheet in cold water and wrap yourself in it. Today, doctors advise against lowering your body temperature too quickly, so if you try this remedy, use slightly cool, not cold, water. Cover the wet sheet with a large beach towel or blanket, then lie down for about 15 minutes. Unwrap yourself when the wet sheet starts to get warm.
When you have a fever, it’s easy to become dehydrated. Drink 8 to 12 glasses of water a day or enough to make your urine pale. A sports drink like Gatorade can also be helpful. It not only replaces fluids lost to dehydration, but lost minerals as well. Dehydration isn’t always obvious, so be aware of these secret signs you’re dehydrated.
Orange juice and other fruit juices rich in vitamin C are good choices, since the vitamin C assists your immune system in fighting off infection.
Cold grapes provide hydration—and a soothing treat.
If your fever is accompanied by a sore throat, try these simple sore throat remedies for fast relief (you’ve already got the ingredients in your pantry!). And here’s how to know if you’ve got a cold or the flu.
This post was originally published in May, 2017.
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