I feel like fevers get off pretty lightly in popular culture. Think about how many films and songs use fever with positive connotations; it is somehow linked to energy, passion, a fervour. I’m not sure about you, but these words couldn’t less accurate from when I’m in the height of a fever. A Saturday Night Fever in my house is less disco dancing, and more weak shivers. Everyone from Elvis and Madonna all the way through to Beyonce and Dua Lipa have songs called Fever and at last listen, they weren’t about bowls of chicken soup and anti-inflammatories.
I’m labouring the point now. But it was only so you could understand how deeply frustrating it is. I wonder whether something like diarrhoea will ever have its day in the sun? Probably not. Today, I am going to give you an honest look at how fevers work, and more importantly, how to shake them as quickly as possible.
Fevers are actually not the result of a sickness. It is actually your body attempting to fight off the virus by raising your temperature. This fights the virus, and your general well being becomes collateral damage. You might suspect a fever if you are:
- Feeling chills and shivers
- Experiencing a headache
- Experiencing aches in your muscles or joints
- Losing your appetite
- Feeling irritable
Generally, a fever isn’t a cause for alarm. It is your body behaving as it should. When you are healthy, your body temperature should be floating around the high 36s to low 37 degrees (it varies between different people and at different times of the day). But when you start pushing north of 37.8 you’ve picked up a fever. The best way to tell is with something like an Omron thermometer. An Omron thermometer is one of the most intuitive tools you can use, and is used in both private homes and hospitals. Now, this is always a pretty unpopular piece of information, but the most accurate way to take your temperature is rectally. But there is a perfect balance between comfort and accuracy and that is by taking the temperature through the ear, and there is an Omron thermometer designed specifically for this purpose. If your temperature is higher than 39.4, this is starting to become a medical emergency, and you should seek urgent medical attention, especially if you are experiencing: headaches, a rash, sensitivity to light, stiffness around the neck and back, confusion, vomiting, difficulty breathing, pain when urination, convulsions and abdominal pain.
Generally, fevers don’t get this bad. The average person will experience a fever 3-4 times a year with the common cold. But there are definitely ways to get the pain. Because, boy, they can really hit you for six if you don’t manage the pain.
- First things first, you need to rest. Your body is naturally weakened and depleted, so you need to direct all of your rich oxygenated blood towards combating the virus. Exercise will split your forces which gives the virus an opportunity to rally.
- Keep up the fluids. If you are sweating badly enough, you can lose a lot of fluid over a few hours. It is important to keep them up because it promotes healthy bowel movements. It also washes out the virus from your body. You should be aiming to drink 8 to 12 glasses a day. Basically, if your urine is clear, you are on the right track. If you can add hydrolites (ingredients found in powerade) or vitamin C, this will help you replace the minerals you have lost in your sickness.
- Crank some pain medication. Paracetamol is a strong option because it numbs the pain receptors in your brain. Those aches (be they in the head, joints or muscles) don’t throb quite so much afterwards. Then you should be looking for some Ibuprofen. This is an anti inflammatory that goes direct to the source of the pain and reduces inflammation so that there are fewer pain signals making their way to the brain. The nice thing about Paracetamol and Ibuprofen is that you can take them concurrently.
- Stay cool. Unless you are experiencing chills, you should remove excess layers of clothing or blankets. It actually just raises your temperature even further. Bathing in a cool bath can help bring your body temperature down fairly effectively.
- Herbal tea. If you can get your hands on yarrow or elderflower tea, this opens your pores and gets you sweating which helps get rid of the fever.
- Get some spices into your diet. Cayenne pepper makes you sweat and helps get your blood circulating around your body.
- Keep monitoring your temperature. If you aren’t seeing any improvement after a few days, you should consider seeing a doctor. If you experience any of the adverse symptoms listed above, seek medical assistance regardless of what your temperature says.
A fever can be a result of a whole host of different ailments. It could be the result of:
- A viral infection (think the common cold)
- A bacterial infection (some kind of germ you’ve picked up in your travels)
- Heat exhaustion (this is linked to dehydration)
- A cancerous malignant tumour (which is why it pays to stay on top of your symptoms)
- Medications (those used treat high blood pressure and seizures)
At the end of the day, a fever is a wonderful way to ruin your day. Anything you can do to make that experience as brief as possible is a win in my books. Given that this is one of the most common ailments, we tend to keep a lot of stock dedicated to kicking your fever to the curb. Whether it be thermometers, anti inflammatories or even a pair of dark sunglasses to hide you from the light, we’ve got you covered.