What Should I Do With My Fever?

What Should I Do With My Fever?

With Thanksgiving behind us, we’re solidly heading into the flu season with COVID still lingering in the background. 

This time of year, I often get asked how to treat a fever. 

I have patients who diligently pop Tylenol the moment they feel the fever is coming up and others who will avoid fever reducing medications like the plague.  And my answer is always, it depends! 

Viruses are smart and our immune system is intelligent too, although it may need support from time to time.  I tell my patients that the moment that you notice early signs of cold symptoms, the next 48 hours are crucial. 

This golden window is when the virus is quickly replicating itself, generating an army to overcome our immune system. 

The early signs of infection, such as fatigue or congestion, are our immune system detecting the virus.  In response, the immune system sends signals to beef up the defense.  One of the signals is to start raising body temperature, which can hinder the virus’s ability to replicate itself.  

There are people who tolerate fever really well, like kids with strong vital force. 

With their cheeks as red as apples and snot constantly dripping down from the nose, they are still running around, eating and drinking like normal.  In this case, fever-reducing drugs have no purpose. 

Rather than interfering with the body’s defense, support it with a wet sock treatment.  The wet sock treatment acts to reflexively increase circulation, helping to bring more soldiers to the battlefields and efficiently clearing out debris.  It also has a sedating effect, so this treatment is best done before bedtime to promote restful sleep. Most wake up without a fever, feeling more refreshed.  

To perform the wet sock treatment:

  1. Warm your feet. This is very important as the treatment will not be as effective and could be harmful if your feet are not warmed first. Soaking your feet in warm water or taking a warm bath for at least 5-10 minutes can accomplish warming. 
  2. Take a pair of cotton socks and soak them completely with cold water. Be sure to wring the socks out thoroughly so they do not drip. 
  3. Dry off your feet and body with a dry towel. 
  4. Place cold wet socks on your feet. Cover the wet socks with thick wool, dry socks. Go directly to bed. Avoid getting chilled by covering your body with warm blankets. 
  5. Keep the socks on overnight. You will find that the wet cotton socks will be dry in the morning. 

There are also people who are just miserable with fever. 

They are in bed with tremendous body aches.  In this case, I do think it is reasonable to take medication for 1-2 days to ease the suffering.  One can still do the wet sock treatment along with adequate hydration, herbs and supplements to support the immune system.  

Last year, I saw quite a few cases of the viral trio: COVID, flu and RSV. 

This year, let’s make the effort to practice self-care. 

If you have been slacking due to busy life and schedule, this is your cue to pick up your self-care practices.  Prevention is always the best medicine.  Remember that masks are not just for COVID. 

If you have any questions regarding fever management, talk to your providers at Naturopathic Family Health. We are here to support you

Have a wonderful holiday. 

Dr. Sherry Su
Naturopathic Doctor San Jose


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