How to Reduce a Fever Without Medication

Three Parts:Cooling DownAdjusting Diet to Reduce FeverRecognizing When to Get Medical Attention

If you are running a fever (or if your child is), you naturally you want to reduce it as quickly as possible. Fevers do serve a purpose, though: higher body temperature is believed to stimulate the immune system and kill off infectious agents.[1][2] So, there is some good reason to allow a fever to proceed normally, at least for a while. You do, however, want to control the fever so that you or your child can be as comfortable as possible while the immune system does its job. Fortunately, home remedies can help.

Part 1
Cooling Down

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    Take a warm or lukewarm bath. Start off by drawing a warm bath. Have the person suffering from the fever get in and relax while the warm temperature of the water slowly drops. Because the temperature of the water drops slowly, the person cools down slowly as well.
    • You don't want the water too cool because you don't want to drop the body temperature too fast.
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    Do a wet sock treatment. This method works best overnight. Take a pair of pure cotton socks long enough to cover the ankles and thoroughly wet the socks in cold running water. Wring out all excess water and put the socks on. Cover these cotton socks with pure wool socks to supply insulation. The person wearing the socks should rest in bed for the rest of the night. They should be covered with a blanket as well.
    • Most kids will be pretty cooperative because they should begin to feel cooler within a few minutes.
    • This treatment is a traditional naturopathic approach. The theory is that the cold feet stimulate an increase in circulation and an increased response from the immune system.[3] The result is that the body expends heat and ends up drying the socks and cooling the body. This treatment can relieve chest congestion as well.
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    Use a wet towel treatment. Take one or two hand towels and fold lengthwise. Soak the towels in either very cold or ice water. Wring out the excess water and wrap the towel around the head, around the neck, around the ankles or around the wrists. Don’t use the towels over more than two areas-- that is, use the towel around the head and the ankles or around the neck and wrists. Otherwise, you may cool down TOO much.
    • The cool or cold towels draw heat out of the body and can lower the body temperature. Repeat when the towel is dry or not cool enough anymore to give relief. This can be repeated as often as needed.

Part 2
Adjusting Diet to Reduce Fever

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    Cut back on eating. The old adage, "feed a cold, starve a fever" actually has some truth to it, according to recent scientific studies.[4] You don’t want to waste the body’s energy for digestion when that energy should be used to control the infection that's causing the fever.
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    Snack on healthy fruits. Choose fruits such as berries, watermelon, oranges and cantaloupe. These are rich in Vitamin C, which can help fight infections and lower fever.[5] They'll also help keep you hydrated.
    • Avoid heavy, fatty or oily foods like barbecued or fried foods. Avoid spicy foods like chicken wings, pepperoni, or sausages too.
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    Eat some soup. While you can have chicken broth on its own, you could also eat chicken soup with rice and some vegetables. Studies have shown that chicken soup may actually have medicinal properties.[6] It will also help keep you hydrated.
    • Make sure you include a good and easily digested source of protein such as scrambled eggs or chicken (add a few pieces of meat to your chicken broth).
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    Drink plenty of water. Fever can lead to dehydration which can make the sufferer feel worse. Avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of water or an oral rehydration solution like CeraLyte, Pedialyte. Call your physician before you do and ask your doctor's advice. Be prepared with a list of symptoms and about how much you or your child has been eating, drinking and how high the fever has been. Also keep track of how often you have to change diapers or, for an older children, how often they have to urinate.
    • If you are breast feeding your baby, keep that going as much as possible. You're adding food, water, and comfort.
    • Kids (and you) might enjoy frozen popsicles as a way to stay hydrated. Just try to avoid too much sugar. Look for all-natural fruit popsicles, frozen Italian ices, frozen yogurt, or sherbet. Just don't forget to keep drinking water too!
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    Drink an herbal tea fever reducer. You can either buy these teas or make them yourself. Simply add a teaspoon of dried herb for every cup of water. Steep the herb in boiled water for 5 minutes and flavor as desired with lemon and honey. Avoid adding milk, since dairy products tend to increase congestion. For small children, reduce the herbs to ½ a teaspoon and make sure the tea has cooled down! Don't use teas with infants, except with the advice of a physician. Try an herbal tea made from the following herbs:[7]
    • Holy Basil (Sweet basil will work-- just not quite so well)
    • White willow bark
    • Peppermint or spearmint
    • Calendula
    • Hyssop
    • Raspberry leaf
    • Ginger
    • Oregano
    • Thyme

Part 3
Recognizing When to Get Medical Attention

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    Know when to call your doctor. Body temperature can vary throughout the day, but a normal temperature is considered 98.6oF or 37oC. The recommendation[8] in infants less than 4 months old is that if they have a rectal temperature of 100.4oF (38oC) or more, immediately call your physician for advice. For children of any age, if their rectal temperature is 104oF(40oC) or more, immediately call your physician for advice. Any child 6 months or older with a fever of 103oF(39.4oC) should also be seen. If your child has any fever along with any of the following symptoms, call your doctor (or emergency services) as soon as possible:
    • looks sick or has no appetite
    • fussiness
    • drowsiness
    • obvious signs of infection (pus, discharge, streaky rashes)
    • seizure
    • sore throat, a rash, a headache, a stiff neck, an earache
    • other rarer signs to watch and immediately seek medical attention for:
      • high-pitched cries or sounds like a seal barking
      • difficulty breathing or has a bluish tinge around the mouth, fingers or toes
      • swelling on the top of the baby’s head (the soft spot called the fontanelle)
      • Limpness or lack of movement
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    Watch for signs of mild dehydration. Call your physician for advice even if you are just seeing the signs of mild dehydration, especially in babies. These can become serious dehydration pretty quickly. Symptoms of mild dehydration include:[9]
    • Dry, sticky mouth or crustiness around the lips/eyes in a baby
    • More sleepiness, fussiness or tiredness than usual
    • Thirst (Look for a “lip smacking” behavior or pursing of the lips to tell if infants are thirsty.)
    • Decreased urine output
    • Dry diapers (They should need to be changed because of wet diapers at least every three hours. If the diaper is dry after 3 hours, that may mean some dehydration. Keep pushing fluids and check after another hour. If the diaper is still dry, call your physician.)
    • Dark urine
    • Few or no tears when crying
    • Dry skin (Gently pinch the back of the baby’s hand, just pinching the loose skin. Well-hydrated babies have skin that bounces right back.)
    • Constipation
    • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
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    Recognize severe dehydration. If you see any of these, call emergency services and your physician right away. Severe dehydration symptoms include:[10]
    • Extreme thirst, fussiness, or sleepiness in infants and children (In adults, this is seen as irritability and confusion)
    • Very dry mouth, skin, and mucous membranes or crustiness around the mouth and eyes
    • No tears when crying
    • Dry skin that doesn't "bounce back" when gently pinched into a fold
    • Decreased urination with darker than normal urine
    • Sunken eyes (This may appear as darker circles under the eyes.)
    • In infants, gently check for a sunken fontanel, the soft spot on the top of a baby's head.
    • Rapid heartbeat and/or rapid breathing
    • Fever
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    Look for febrile seizures in infants. A febrile seizure is a convulsion that can happen in babies with a fever. They are scary, but usually over very quickly and do not cause any brain damage or major harm. Febrile seizures usually happen in children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years. They may re-occur, but are rare after the age of 5. If your child has a febrile seizure:
    • Make sure there are no sharp edges, steps or anything nearby that could hurt the child.
    • Do not hold or try to restrain the baby.
    • Place the child or baby on his side or stomach.
    • If the seizure lasts longer than 10 minutes, call emergency services and have the child examined (especially if they have a stiff neck, are vomiting or seem listless or lethargic).[11]


  • Rectal temperatures are considered the most accurate measurement of body temperature,[12] but they differ, sometimes significantly, from oral temperatures or those taken by a forehead scanner or ear temperatures.
  • Rectal temperatures tend to be higher than oral temperatures by 0.5°F (0.3°C) to 1°F (0.6°C).
  • A forehead measuring device (scanner) is usually 0.5°F (0.3°C) to 1°F (0.6°C) lower than an oral temperature and so 1°F (0.6°C) to 2°F (1.2°C) lower than a rectal temperature.
  • Ear (tympanic) temperatures are generally 0.5°F (0.3°C) to 1°F (0.6°C) higher than an oral temperatures.
  • If your child has a fever for more than 1 day (for children less than 2 years old) or for more than 3 days in an older child, call your physician.
  • Body temperature is normally lower in the early morning and normally higher in the afternoon.[13]
  • Always drink lots of water.
  • Do not overheat your child. Overdressing your child can increase body temperature by trapping body heat. Dress your child in light cotton pajamas and light socks. Keep the room warm and cover your child with a blanket.


  • If you have a thyroid disorder known as thyroid storm (a very high level of thyroid hormones), this is an emergency situation and you should call emergency services. The approaches listed here will NOT address the problem with thyroid storm.
  • Avoid any caffeinated teas (black, green and white) because these teas have some thermogenic (increasing heat) properties.
  • If you have a fever, avoid alcohol and any caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea or soda.
  • Never give infants and children aspirin, unless directed by a physician. Avoid giving anyone under the age of 18 aspirin.[14]

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