For people of all ages, a normal temperature is 98.6° F (some people fluctuate a few degrees higher or lower). But when the thermometer reaches 100.4° F or higher, you have yourself a bona fide fever. Even without the thermometer, we can recognize those all-too familiar signs: flushed skin, a slight sweat, increased thirst, maybe even a low-grade headache.
While high heat, overdressing or overexerting, and certain medications and/or vaccinations can trigger a fever, the most common cause for the onset of increased body temperature is disease or infection. Most experts agree that the onset of a fever usually means that your body is “burning off” a virus or unwanted bacteria.
Sometimes the cause of a fever can be as benign as an earache, stress, or common cold or flu. Other times, it can signal a much more serious condition, including cancer, Lyme disease, staph infection, or pneumonia. And just as a fever can signal a variety of problems, it also calls for a variety of treatments—especially when it comes to children.
Fevers and children can be a tricky combination. The best rule of thumb to use is the age rule. If the child is three months or younger, a temperature of just 100.4° F can signal a serious problem and calls for immediate medical attention. For an older infant and toddler, they can often tolerate a temperature between 100° F and 103° F. In these cases, you have several natural options, including a cool bath, lots of fluids, and elderberry syrup.
One way to help your child be a bit more comfortable is to place them in a lukewarm bath. Just be sure it’s not too cold, or they can begin to shiver, which will only prolong the problem.
Because fevers often leads to sweating, you’ll want to be sure your child drinks lots of fluids, preferably water, soup, and diluted juice to avoid dehydration. One great fever-reducing cocktail for you child is antioxidant-rich pomegranate juice mixed with purified water and two tablespoons of elderberry syrup. Elderberries are an excellent antiviral remedy and have long been used to treat fevers and congestion.
These natural remedies are a great way to fight a low-grade fever in children and adults alike. However, a fever is not to be taken lightly. If these remedies don’t work within 24 hours, or if your child’s temperature climbs above 103.5° F, call your pediatrician. Additionally, under no circumstances should you give the child aspirin, as it can cause a serious condition called Reye’s syndrome, which affects all body organs, especially the brain and liver.
Finally, you should seek immediate medical attention if:
- A child three months of age or younger has a temperature of 100.4° F or higher.
- A child between six months and four years has a temperature of 103.5° F or higher.
- An adult has a temperature of 104° F or higher.
- The fever has lasted more than five days.
- If the fever is accompanied by a severe headache and stiff neck or blood in the stool or urine.