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Drawing Out the Fever
Several techniques are available that do not suppress fever but rather draw heat from the body. To help keep a fever from becoming too high, doctors recommend giving the child plenty of fluids (such as water, tea, or juice), keeping the child’s room relatively cool, and giving a sponge bath as mentioned above. Alcohol should not be used in a sponge bath for babies, because it is absorbed through the skin and can cause neurological damage. 9
A lemon wrap. This technique, described in the useful book, Caring for the Sick at Home, is designed to draw heat away from the head and out the feet. It should be used only if the feet are very hot. Gather long strips of cotton cloth for wrapping the legs. Then, cut a lemon in half and place it in a bowl of warm water. Reach into the water to make slits in the lemon, and then squeeze it by pressing it against the bottom of the bowl. Roll up the cotton strips and soak them in the lemon water.
Now, place a towel under each of your child's legs. Remove one of the strips from the water, squeeze hard, and begin wrapping the first leg starting at the foot and wrapping from the inside of the arch to the outside of the foot. Continue with additional wraps working all the way up to just above the knee. Be sure to cover the entire foot and leg, without leaving any gaps. Immediately wrap the towel up around the foot and leg to prevent too-rapid chilling. (If you do not have a towel handy, wrap a wool shawl or strips of wool fabric over the wet cotton strips.)
Repeat the entire process on the second leg, working carefully but quickly. Immediately replace the covers. Leave the wraps on until the cotton strips dry. This may take about 20 to 25 minutes. If the fever is still high after half an hour, repeat the procedure.
In the absence of the materials described above, others will do. If cotton strips are unavailable when your child produces a high fever, you can substitute a pair of adult cotton tube socks or a pair of your own knee socks that can reach well up your child's legs. In lieu of towels, simply cover your child's wrapped legs and feet with a blanket to prevent toorapid cooling. If you do not have a fresh lemon, try adding vinegar to the water instead.
Caring for a Sick Child
More important than how you care for a sick child is that you care for a sick child. Children need time and rest to fight off illness and to consolidate the physical and developmental changes that may be occurring. If given insufficient time to recuperate, their immune systems can weaken and become more prone to complications or future infections.
Many busy mothers are so harried that they do not think to call everything to a halt so they can keep their sick child at home and attend to his or her needs; they do not think to get help with the shopping or driving of other children or managing the many errands that arise each day. Mothers who work away from home are often tempted to give antibiotics immediately (suppressing symptoms) so that their children can be back in school or daycare within 24 hours. Those who cannot use their own sick days to stay home with a sick child are expected to take their children to unfamiliar daycare “infirmaries.” Clearly, our culture is not set up to meet the needs of children and working parents.