Well, it’s happened. I have not had the flu in years, but guess what? Last week was my week to get sick. I had a fever and chills, cough, and generally felt quite sorry for myself (though I'm on the mend). If you had an appointment with me earlier this week, you received a call rescheduling that appointment. Because when I get sick, I stay home, just like I recommend to my patients. I really do try to practice what I preach. Which is why I am going to tell you what I do for myself when I get sick. These are easy things you can do at home for yourself and your family, to help ease symptoms and speed healing (always check with your naturopathic physician before beginning a new health treatment). But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s get back to the symptoms, especially fever. Often this is a symptom I get calls and emails about, especially from parents. When to worry? When to let it cook?
Fever: The Best Immune System Tune-Up
Fever is our body’s way of fighting illness and improving immune function. When it is suppressed with medication, illness lasts longer. Really! A study published in 2011 showed that children who are allowed to manifest a fever during illness get better more quickly than those who are given fever reducer such as ibuprofen. What is a good, healthy fever? Anything up to 103.5 degrees in children, and up to 102 degrees in adults. In infants under 6 months and adults over 65 years, or anyone who is immune-compromised, special care must be taken to diagnose and manage fever under a doctor’s care. In general, allowing fever to run its course and doing things to manage discomfort without reducing the fever is preferred. When to give fever reducer? When the temperature goes above those listed above, or when the patient is so uncomfortable due to the fever that they can’t sleep. Sleep is essential to healing, and if fever reducer is needed for good restful sleep, I vote for sleep!
Warming Socks: Home Hydrotherapy (for little ones I call these “magic socks”)
This treatment acts to reflexively increase circulation and decrease congestion in the upper respiratory passages, head, and throat. It has a sedating action and many patients report that they sleep much better during the treatment. This treatment is also effective for pain relief and increases the healing response during acute infections. The warming sock treatment is best if repeated for three nights in a row, or as instructed by your physician.
Any inflammation or infection of the throat (including simple sore throat), neck pain, ear infections, headaches, migraines, nasal congestion, upper respiratory infections, sinus infections, teething, fever management.
1 pair thin cotton socks
1 pair thick wool socks
Warm bath or foot bath
- Warm your feet first. This may be done by taking a hot shower or bath, or by simply soaking them in a tub of hot water for 5-10 minutes. This is very important as the treatment will not be as effective and could be harmful if feet are not warmed first.
- Take a pair of thin cotton socks and soak them completely in the foot bath water. Wring the socks out thoroughly so they do not drip and set them on the edge of the tub next to you. The socks should be cold by the time you are done warming your feet.
- When your feet are sufficiently warmed, dry them with a towel.
- Get into bed.
- Place wet socks on your feet, cover them with thick wool socks, and immediately get under the covers and go to bed. Avoid getting chilled.
- Keep the socks on overnight. You will find that not only will the cotton socks be dry by morning, your feet will be as warm as little toasters!
What else to do when you’re sick?
Hydrate with broth and herbal tea, use raw honey as cough medicine (in anyone over 1 year old), take baths with Epsom salts to relieve aches and chills, and rest, rest, rest. The life cycle of a virus is 7 days, so expect that it will be at least 7 days before you are feeling well again.