What and Why?
Your temperature is thermostatically controlled at 36.8°C (98.4°F) to keep your metabolism at its best. But you sometimes need to go into overdrive to outrun a disease process and regain your health more quickly. Raising your temperature is the easiest way.
You turn up your thermostat to make your body act cold — cutting down the blood supply to your limbs and skin, wanting to wrap up warmly, even shivering. In a few hours you heat up to the thermostat level and feel more comfortable but your skin is hot and dry and your pulse is faster. Because your body is concentrating on recovery you do not want to eat and may only manage to sip a little fluid at a time.
Eventually the fever ‘breaks’. The thermostat goes back to normal so your body now feels too hot. Your skin flushes and perspires, you throw off clothing and appreciate cool draughts. When you have cooled to your usual temperature you become comfortable once more.
A feverish illness usually has a definite daily rhythm. You wake up feeling normal, but become feverish and unwell during the morning when your temperature is rising. It runs high all afternoon and evening, breaking naturally in the early hours of the next morning. So your nightwear and bedding are damp and need thorough airing.
This routine continues as long as you need it and usually stops within a few days without any other symptoms arising to indicate why. Your body has healed itself without snags or complications, so give yourself a pat on the back.
The fever mechanism evolved vigorous enough to cope with prehistoric conditions, and in centrally heated draught-proofed houses can easily over-reach its target — usually around 39°C (102°F). Over-heating can cause headache, vomiting, restlessness or delirium.
Children use fever more often than adults and in health often shrug it off overnight. But between six months and five years of age they are specially susceptible to convulsions if they over-heat.
Fever can accompany some diseases which will eventually require treatment from the doctor. Consult him after two days, or sooner if you have pain, severe headache, or any other localizing symptoms. But brief uncomplicated feverish episodes at intervals during childhood are not unhealthy; it is not irresponsible to manage these yourself, once you are familiar with them.
What can I do?
1. Manage fever: do not attempt to abolish it — it’s on your side!
2. A Priessnitz Pack is very refreshing and helpful. Bathe the feverish victim in water hot enough to make him perspire and feel hot, but have ready a cloth (linen, cotton) big enough to go round his body once, like a corset.
- Soak this in cold water then spin it dry. You need enough strong safety-pins to fasten the overlapping edges of the sheet every few inches.
- Apply this sheet tightly, as soon as the victim is dry from the bath. If water squeezes out of it, you do not have the sheet dry enough.
- Once on, wrap a woollen scarf round outside it, or put on a warm woollen pullover, to keep the heat in.
- Within five minutes the skin inside these wrappings will feel hot: poke a finger up inside and check this. The pack stays on for two hours, or all night.
3. Medicines and food tend to get in the way, but frequent small sips of tepid watered fruit-juice or home-made barley water are very refreshing.
4. Cover up just enough to avoid shivering — one layer of light billowy clothing (plus a sheet or one blanket for a child in bed). Avoid quilts of any kind. Ventilate the room for a through draught. Turn the heating down. These precautions make over-heating much less likely.
5. Leave a feverish child to sleep like this. If he gets too cold he will wake you or cover up more. Do not risk his over-heating in the night: he will give you no warning of this. Apart from the danger that he will become delirious and uncooperative, or even have a convulsion, he will take several hours and a lot of effort to get cool again!
6. Try Homeopathic Bella donna 6 as drops or a tablet held on the tongue for a few minutes, half hourly until relieved. Persevere for two or three doses. This helps particularly the hot, dry, restless type of symptoms.
- If you prefer conventional remedies, stick to something simple. Paracetamol Dispersible BP is usually recommended now, but its side effects are insidious and therefore dangerous.
- Aspirin is actually better, if it does not upset the stomach, provided you are confident the recipient is not sensitive to it.
Only medicate a child when you cannot manage the fever by nursing. Half a tablet, creamed in a little milk, treats a small child safely. If it makes them sick, cool them down for half an hour and try again..
DELIRIUM AND CONVULSIONS NEED URGENT COOLING!
Strip the child and wipe them all over frequently with a hot damp sponge. Play warm air over them with a hair-drier or fan heater. Support them face downwards in a kneeling or crawling position, and make sure they can breathe freely. Speak to your doctor for advice.