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Why investigate home remedies for a fever? Because there is nothing worse than being sick and feverish. As pathogens attack, a fever is one of the tools your body uses to combat the invader.
While this is a natural condition it is uncomfortable at best and dangerous at its worst. Let’s jump into the battle with a few fever home remedy weapons of our own.
Is There a Doctor in the House?
Don’t trifle with medical matters. When the grid is up and qualified medical care is available, you must consult a medical professional, doctor, or nurse. A fever is a sign that something seriously wrong with your insides.
Do not risk your personal health just to see if this natural stuff works. Again, uses the tools at your disposal. If it’s SHTF time then use these remedies, if the doctor is in then pay them a visit.
Specifically speaking for those with infants and children. Home remedies for fever in babies and infants should only be used after consulting your pediatrician.
At the risk of repeating myself, use these natural remedies and home remedies for a fever only in a survival situation when you have no other recourse.
Fever Types, Causes, and Symptoms
A fever is the body’s natural response to an infection. Professionally termed pyrexia, the body increases its core temperature in an attempt to make the environment inhospitable to contagions.
For the uninitiated, the normal body temperature is about 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. This is not an exact number as your temperature fluctuates with the time of day, activity level, diet, etc.
Take the temperatures of your family and/or team members often to establish their baseline.
For example, I have a close friend that runs a low temperature. He has often gone to the doctor with a “near-normal” temperature of 98.8 or 98.9 where he has to explain that in fact is already well within fever territory.
Know your team and how they run, as little as one or two degrees can make the difference in treatment and medical approach.
Taking Temperatures: Oral or…
Any home remedy for a fever begins with properly diagnosing the severity of the fever.
There are three main ways to reliably measure a person’s temperature.
The first and most widely used is the oral temperature. A thermometer under the tongue for three minutes is the standard.
From doctor’s offices to kid’s bedrooms everywhere it’s the way to go. All of the temperatures in this article will refer to orally taken temperatures.
Rectal is reserved for infants that do not yet have the dexterity to keep an oral thermometer in place. Although they are the most accurate, rectal temperatures are slightly different than oral temps. Refer to your medical guide for normal and high temps.
A godsend of technology is the Temporal Artery Thermometer (TAT). Quick and easily used on a sleeping infant. I recommend a TAT for every medical bag.
Electronic ear thermometers are not accurate enough for medical treatment. While they show trends, they are often inaccurate by more than one degree and should not be used if the patient has a fever. Stick with oral or TAT when the patient is sick.
How Hot is HOT?
As I stated above, a fever is the body’s attempt to sour the environment for contagions. The more inhospitable the environment the weaker the invader and the more effective the natural defenses.
But when is a rise in temperature a fever?
Adults have a much lower tolerance of increased body temperature. With as little as a 1.5 degree increase, discomfort and misery settle in.
If you’re anything like me (according to my wife) I’m a whiney basket case as soon as I break 99.0. I can’t say that I disagree.
Most adults have a “low-grade” fever at 100-102 degrees Fahrenheit. A “high-grade” fever starts at 103+ and requires immediate attention.
Applying home remedies for a fever in a child starts with a temperature of 100.4 in children 2 years of age and older.
Generally, if the fever lasts for three days or the fever goes above 102.2 contact your doctor.
The application of home remedies for a fever in an infant or baby starts with a temperature greater than 100.4. If the temperature persists for 24 hours contact their pediatrician.
As with older children, seek the immediate care of a doctor if the fever goes above 102.2.
Causes of a Fever
Fevers arise from a few origins. Before applying your home remedy for this fever, you must first diagnose its cause.
While I will not cover them all here you should at least be aware that some medications and illegal drugs can cause a fever.
Similarly, allergies often kick off a low-grade fever.
I will assume that during a SHTF scenario you and your team will avoid excess medications and all drugs. As for allergies, survival group members should disclose any allergies to you prior to any downfall in society.
One of the most common causes of fevers is a viral infection. The common cold or influenza (The Flu) usually accompanies a low-grade fever. In severe cases (think H5N1 Bird Flu) a fever can cause death.
Bacterial infections often cause fevers. If a tooth infection, surface wound (cut on the finger), or internal abscess is allowed to progress the body fights back with an elevated temperature. This is a signal that immediate treatment for the infection and for the fever is required.
The final cause of a fever I will discuss is physical overheating or Heat Stroke.
The body’s natural defense against overheating is sweating. If the environment does not support sweating and evaporative cooling (read hot and humid), or your physical exertion exceeds the body’s ability to compensate, core temperature increases.
Allowed to continue, your body eventually gives up. Sweating diminishes and then stops.
At this point, body temperatures rise precipitously. Dropping the core temp is required before permanent damage sets in.
We all know when the flu has moved in for an extended stay. Muscle aches and pains, stiffness in the joints, and the dreaded chills send me running for the closest bed, blanket, and Netflix binge session.
Fever symptoms are relatively universal. As you prepare to apply the fever home remedy check off these symptoms.
Initial Fever Symptoms
The Netflix binge fever starts with aching joints and aching muscles. These symptoms are the result of swelling localized to your joints.
Chills, shivering, and excessive sweating go hand in hand with the imminent headache. Restlessness, or on the other extreme, weakness and lethargy will keep you out of the action for a while. In rare cases, a rash can also accompany a fever (especially in infants and children).
Fussiness, hot skin, and the trademark high temperature are all initial signs of a fever in infants and toddlers that may not be able to otherwise verbalize their discomfort.
Fever symptoms go from bad to worse with respiratory issues. Wheezing, difficulty breathing, or blueness in the lips and fingertips all require immediate attention.
At the extreme are altered and confused speech, convulsions, and total lack of response. If these symptoms occur professionals must intervene for your patient to survive.
Essentially at this point, the body is cooking the brain. Death is the final symptom.
Traditional Fever Treatments
When presented with a patient with an elevated temperature your doctor will take two simultaneous approaches: treat the cause, treat the symptoms. Let’s look at those approaches.
If, and only if (that is a big distinction), your doctor determines that you have a bacterial infection, they will prescribe a course of antibiotics. Antibiotics fight the infection which allows your body to back off cranking the furnace.
A little bit of a fever (low grade) will help your body fight off the infection as it sours the environment for the bacteria. In 3-4 days, the antibiotic will start making a noticeable difference.
Lecture Time! Please don’t ask your doctor for antibiotics for every cough, ache, pain, and greasy loogie you cough up.
Antibiotics are overused in and misused in our world. Let the doctor determine the course of action, not WebMD.
Just as important, take the entire course. Let the pills do their work, all the pills. Not taking all the pills will only contribute to the resistance problems in our current medical situation.
Antibiotics are for bacterial infections and nothing else.
Lecture over… While the medication does its thing, your doctor will have you treat the symptoms. Hold your breath, we’ll cover that in a few sections.
Antibiotics are for bacterial infections and nothing else, they are not used for viral infections (see what I did there?).
Doctors usually let most viral infections run their course as they treat the symptoms. This includes medicating your discomfort and reducing your fever.
Medications such as Tamiflu and Relenza are designed to fight the actual virus that is attacking your body. They are most effective when taken as soon as symptoms occur and they aim to shorten the duration of the flu or other infection.
While the medication does its thing, your doctor will have you treat the symptoms.
Heat stroke treatment is all about lowering the core temperature. The quicker the better as the heat is literally baking your internal organs and brain.
So let’s finally move on to treating the symptoms.
Treat the Symptoms
For our purposes here fever has two main symptoms: elevated temperature and achy joints.
Making use of the over the counter pharmacy your doctor will most likely prescribe acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil). Both reduce aches and pains associated with a fever as well as reduce body temp. Use as directed on the bottle.
Due to potentially harmful effects, it’s just easier to avoid the use of aspirin, especially for children.
Stepping out of the pharmaceutical industry for a moment your doctor will also prescribe a few cooling actions to help lower body temp.
These include a sponge bath with lukewarm water or a bath in lukewarm. Avoid cold water as that will induce shivering which just increases body temp.
Applying a cool pack to forehead, wrists, and neck and dressing in lite clothing will also cool the body and the lite clothing allows the heat to escape.
Reproducing and augmenting the medicine cabinet and the soaks in a SHTF scenario is a must. So, let’s look at how to combat that fever when the grid goes down!
11 Home Remedies for a Fever
The post-SHTF approach is similar to going to the doctors however it involves your spice cabinet as well as a few common items.
While you should still stockpile a respectable amount of acetaminophen and ibuprofen, here are a few things to use when the post-apocalyptic medicine cabinet runs dry and natural remedies are one of your only resources.
Tea and Decoction Home Remedies for Fever
Give the patient clear liquids as often as tolerated. Use these teas and decoctions no more than two or three times per day while the fever symptoms persist.
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) Tea
Loaded with micronutrients, minerals, etc., apple cider vinegar can add much-needed nutrition to an overworked body.
Mix 1 cup of water with 1 tablespoon of ACV, 2 teaspoons of honey, and warm slightly. Add more or less honey to taste. A little more won’t hurt as honey is loaded with antibiotic properties.
Note, do not give this tea to infants.
Garlic Ginger Tea
Both garlic and ginger have a reputation as “cure-alls”.
Add one clove and an equal-sized chunk of ginger to 1-2 cups of water and heat to a soft boil for 10 minutes. Cool and serve.
Golden Turmeric Milk
Turmeric is a force multiplier in the fever world. Hosting anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, and temperature reducing properties it attacks a fever from all angles. ½ teaspoon heated in a cup of milk is a savory treat.
Spice it up with peppercorns or cardamom (strain both out before drinking).
Peppermint is a great cooling herb and can do more than grace your favorite summer rum drink.
Bruise a half dozen leaves and soak in hot water for 10 minutes will also cool a feverish head.
Yup, you read that right, raisin tea.
20-30 in a cup of hot water soaked for 1 hour gets you started. Strain and finish with lemon juice and an optional teaspoon of honey to soothe a sore throat as it lowers your fever.
Basil and Pepper Tea
Going from odd to odder, we have another savory cup.
1 teaspoon of dried basil and a ¼ teaspoon of black pepper steeped in hot water is another ancient cure for a mild fever.
Add Some Heat
All of the above will yield an interesting series of tastes. However, when tolerated, why not go big or go home.
Hot peppers have been used ever since man discovered that meat a little more than flame and fire to be tasty.
Sprinkle a little powdered hot pepper into any of the above teas for a boost. Capsicum increases circulation, open capillaries, and induces sweating. All three functions combine to assist the body in getting rid of excess heat.
Cool Bath and Sponge Bath Home Remedies for a Fever
Baths are at the top of the doctor’s list for reducing a fever. Especially considering the youngest members of your group, a soak is one of the best approaches to how to treat a fever in a child.
Aiding in the rapid removal of excess heat a soaking bath or simple sponge bath work quicker than most pharmaceuticals.
Let’s take a look at a few ways to spice up the bath, and cool down that fever.
Adding a few cups of ACV to a lukewarm bath or sponging off with a mix of 1:2 ratio of ACV to water will help cool and provide an extra boost with the ACV.
Don’t use cold water as the shivering it causes is counterproductive.
We’ve added ginger to our tea, now extend that to a cool soak with ½ cup ginger power in a bath and soak for 10 minutes.
Soaked Socks Home Remedies for a Fever
A novel home remedy my grandma used on her kids when they had a fever, and a different approach to the sponge bath is damp socks.
Who doesn’t stick their feet out from under the blankets as a temperature regulator? Blood moving through the extremities is cooled, therefore cool the feet and cool the body.
Because of the mechanics (nothing to drink, no cool bath to tolerate), this is a great method to answer the question “how to reduce a fever in a toddler or child”.
ACV Sock Sauces
Applying damp socks while your child rests will provide a little extra fever reduction help.
Take a pair of cotton socks and moisten only the foot portion with a 1:1 mixture of ACV and cool water. Place the socks on you or your child’s feet and then cover with a second pair of wool socks.
By morning their feet and socks will be dry and their fever reduced.
Identical in treatment to the ACV sock treatment, however, use a 1:1 Lemon juice water mix. Guaranteed to at least smell a little better!
Bonus: Keep the Medicine Cabinet Stocked
Since the isolation of the active ingredients in aspirin, Tylenol, and Ibuprofen we have had an effective weapon in the fight against fever and its associated symptoms.
It would be a folly to ignore them as a component of your SHTF preparations. Cheap and effective, stock them high and deep. Make sure to avoid gel caps as their expiration dates are actually real as opposed to those for regular tablets.
Fevers are a natural part of the healing process. Low-grade fevers are often best left to run their course as they are a sign that the immune system is doing its thing. As the fever increases it is good to at least aid the comfort of the patient to allow them to rest and save their strength for the internal fight going on.
Home remedies for a fever are a great adjunct to a dose of Tylenol. But the prudent prepare for when things go south and neither the doctor nor the medicine cabinet still exist.
Bonus: How to Make Pemmican, the Original Survival Food
Invented by the natives of North America pemmican was used by Indian scouts as well as early western explorers.
Native Americans spent a great deal of time on the go and depended on having portable, high-energy, highly nutritious, and filling foods that would last for long periods of time without refrigeration.
Pemmican is a portable, long-lasting, high-energy food. It's made of lean, dried meat that's crushed into powder and mixed with hot, rendered fat. This makes it one of the ultimate foods to have stockpiled for when SHTF or disaster strikes.
People really should avert their gaze from the modern survival thinking for just a bit and also look at how folks 150 years ago did it.
These guys were the last generation to practice basic things, for a living, that we call "survival skills" now.