Sweating out a fever: Is it good or bad for you?
If you are dripping the sweat off of your forehead right now while cluelessly looking for answers as to what your fever has to do with all that sweating, here’s your catch!
Sweating during fever is not a new phenomenon but it sure as hell creates an uncomfortable experience for a person who is already trying to recover from his or her fever.
If we talk about sweating and fever separately, these are two different body conditions.
Fever is a temporary increase in your body temperature, often due to an illness with the temperatures fluctuating now and then.
Sweating, on the other hand, is an outcome of a response to heat, stress, or any other medical condition. It is associated with a release of salty fluids from sweat glands.
Fever sweating is a very common condition experienced by many people. But is it sweating in a fever is good or bad for your health?
Why does the Body Sweat?
Well, sweating is one of the most important regulatory mechanisms of the body.
The main role of sweating is to cool down the internal temperature of the body and essentially balance the thermoregulation.
When the body overheats, sweating is a reaction process to bounce back the normal temperature. The antibodies fight the pathogens attacking the body and thus undergo changes that involve heat stimulation and thus an increase in body temperature.
In fact, sweating can release heat from the body at a rate that is more than ten times higher than a resting body can heat itself up.
Some of the reasons as to why sweating is important are –
- Circulation through the muscles and other tissues increases
- The skin releases certain toxins upon sweating which helps in detoxification.
- Prevent the formation of kidney stones by releasing extra salts from the body.
- Helps in opening up the skin pores and thus restricting bacteria entry and preventing skin problems like acne
Essentially, during fever, many people experience profuse sweating. This comes into play because fever raises the internal temperature of the human body.
Sweating during fever helps in cooling down this raised internal body temperature and thus prevents the body from getting heated quickly and balancing the thermoregulation.
Fever is a temporary increase in body temperature that occurs in response to an infection or illness. It is the body’s natural defense mechanism for fighting off pathogens and stimulating the immune system. Symptoms may include sweating, chills, headaches, and muscle aches.
Causes and Symptoms of Fever
It is pretty common for people to have fever these days. It is a psychological response that the body has for some diseases. When you have a fever, the hypothalamus which is a part of the brain, makes it so that the body temperature is raised above average. Fever can sometimes cause chills in the body which prompts people to get additional layers of clothing so that their body is able to generate more heat. This can further increase the temperature as well. There are many factors that can trigger the onset of a fever, some are mentioned below.
- Sometimes, common infections such as pneumonia, flu, etc. can cause fever in people.
- There are different vaccines such as tetanus or diphtheria that can also be the cause of fever in young children. It is a side effect.
- The children who are teething in their infancy also experience fever from time to time.
- Diseases like rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and Crohn’s disease can also cause a fever in some people (1).
- When blood clots are formed inside the body, it might lead to fever in some cases.
- People who suffer from sunburns during the summertime might complain about having fever sometimes.
- In other cases, food poisoning is also linked in fever in individuals.
- Certain medications such as antibiotics seem to raise the temperature of the body sometimes, thus causing a fever.
Apart from a raised temperature, people who are suffering from fever might also sometimes experience shivering, excess sweating, muscle cramps, headaches, and other symptoms like that. The intensity and the severity of these symptoms will decide what treatment the patient should get.
You cannot call fever a disease in itself because it is just the symptom that tells us about an underlying health problem. Suppose you or someone you know is experiencing a persistent or high fever with concerning symptoms. In that case, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Can you sweat out a fever?
Yes, sweating out a fever is a popular home remedy that has been used for centuries to alleviate symptoms of illness. However, is it good to sweat out a fever? There is an ongoing debate among medical professionals about the effectiveness and safety of this practice. Let us take a closer look at the potential risk of sweating out a fever and possible alternative ways.
Does sweating mean the Fever is Breaking?
Well, yes. Sweating does help in breaking the fever and bringing back normal body temperature.
This is why you can find yourself profusely sweating during a fever because your body is trying to adapt and cool down the fever-induced raised temperature.
Once a person’s fever runs its course, the body needs to lower its core temperature. That’s where fever and sweating kick in. Sweating is the body’s only way to regulate the normal temperature.
Fever sweating is not a fun part of the whole course of your health problem but it has its share of benefits that help the body in self-responding towards fighting the fever.
When a person has a fever, the normal body temperature (which is around 98.6 degrees) starts changing and fluctuating and mostly rises.
Fever can be defined as an adaptive response of the body to infection, inflammation, stress, or trauma. If your body temperature constantly keeps rising and goes above normal or 100.4 degrees, it’s definitely a fever.
As the fever progresses and starts heating up the body, the following symptoms can be experienced-
- Lack of appetite
- Skin vasoconstriction
- Chills and goosebumps
Also Read: Cold Sweat Symptoms & Causes
Sweating in Fever is Good or Bad?
It’s common to sweat when you’re having a fever. It means that your body is trying to cool down the internal temperature and is fighting off the infections which is a good thing.
Naturally sweating while having a fever is something not to get worried about. You can experience natural sweating at any time, either day or night.
However, the point of concern is when you intentionally try to make yourself sweat more in order to speed up your recovery process.
Well, this doesn’t work as effectively as you think. It isn’t unhealthy to sweat out your fever but there is no evidence that sweating it out intentionally will actually help you feel better faster.
Fever, in itself, isn’t an illness. It is an effect of the underlying health causes that you need to address.
So, as long as you are sweating profusely and your fever is cutting down, it’s good for you but if you forcefully try to sweat it up, then you may face dangerous side effects.
Also, there is no need to panic if your fever isn’t going down or coming back again, as in the case of COVID-19, where the symptoms return back even after recovering.
Fever takes its own time to fade away and prominently, it depends on the underlying cause and it may return even after you have got your normal temperature back.
The Potential Risks of “Sweating out a Fever”
If you are trying to sweat yourself up by exercising a lot by covering yourself in multiple blankets or by trying to raise the room temperature, that may lead to more health losses than any benefit.
The potential outcomes of fever constant fever sweating can be-
- Increased fever
If your fever is already high, sweating it out might actually make it even higher. Skin is a heat-losing organ so it is wise to wear loose clothing and remove excess blankets. This helps in cooling down the body temperature.
This is one of the most underappreciated outcomes of fever sweating. As much as sweating helps you cool down, too much of it can lead to major fluid and electrolyte losses leading to dehydration which can further worsen the condition.
- Exhaustion and fatigue
Fighting off infection and having a higher body temperature can actually leach out a lot from your body including your strength and immunity.
If you exercise more than required just to sweat it out more during your fever, it may lead to weakness, fatigue, and many other health complications.
To prevent these dangerous side-effects of fever sweating, make sure you do not force sweating it out. Let it come out naturally and perform its work.
Secondly, focus on your hydration the most. Fever usually calls for NOT feeling like drinking or eating much, but to control the constant sweating and maintain the fluid balance of the body, it is important to hydrate yourself.
It is not advised to keep drinking water out of your body capacity, but keep in mind your regular intake. Instead of only water, try to consume more natural electrolyte drinks like coconut water, warm milk, or sometimes, energy drinks.
You can also indulge electrolyte and water-rich foods like citrus fruits, watermelon, avocados, green leafy vegetables, etc. in your diet to rehydrate.
All these additional options will not only make up for your fluid and electrolyte losses but will also help you gain energy and recover sooner.
Alternatives to Sweating out a fever
Several alternative remedies may help alleviate symptoms and support the body’s natural healing process. One of the most effective ways to manage a fever is to rest and allow the body to recover. This means getting plenty of sleep, avoiding strenuous physical activity, and taking time off from work or other obligations. Resting can help reduce inflammation, promote healing, and prevent complications associated with fever.
Another alternative to sweating out a fever is to stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of fluids, such as water, electrolyte-rich sports drinks, or herbal teas, can help keep the body hydrated and support immune function.
Over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen can help reduce fever and relieve pain and inflammation. Natural remedies such as ginger, elderberry, and echinacea have also been shown to have anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting effects that may help reduce fever and support the body’s healing process.
Debunking common myths
There are several common myths associated with fever and its management. Some of them include:
Myth #1: Does wrapping yourself in blankets help break a fever?
This is not true. Wrapping yourself in blankets can make a fever worse by trapping heat and preventing the body from cooling down. It is important to keep the body cool by wearing light clothing, keeping the room at a comfortable temperature, and using a cool compress or fan.
Myth #2: Is it true that taking a cold shower can lower a fever?
While taking a cold shower may feel refreshing, it is not a safe or effective way to lower a fever. Exposing the body to cold water can cause shivering and increase the body’s internal temperature, making the fever worse. It is better to use a cool compress or take a lukewarm bath to help reduce fever.
Myth #3: Do Fever-reducing medications prevent the body from fighting off the infection?
It’s untrue. Fever-reducing medications such as ibuprofen do not prevent the body from fighting off infection. Reducing fever can help alleviate symptoms and make the body more comfortable, allowing it to focus on fighting off the infection.
Fever and Dehydration: What You Need to Know
Fever and dehydration often go hand in hand and can be interconnected. More than 17% to 28% of older adults in the United States suffer from dehydration (2). During a fever, the body’s temperature rises, increasing sweating to cool down. When you sweat, the body ends up losing a lot of fluids and electrolytes since it is gone with the sweat. For people who suffer from excessive sweating, they might have some problems such as dry mouth, urine that is dark in colour, thirst, and more.
Fever along with dehydration tends to add a lot of stress. Hence, there are some complications that might arise from that condition. To keep yourself safe, there are some things that you can do.
- The first and foremost thing to do is take care of hydration. Make sure that you drink a lot of water. Also, keep some beverages that contain electrolytes with you to restore he fluid balance in your body. Keep in mind that you need to avoid any alcohol or drinks that contain caffeine.
- Keep yourselves as cool as possible. That can be done by wearing some lighter clothes so that your body temperature doesn’t get to hot.
- If the fever doesn’t come down even after trying all of the things mentioned above, you need to go ahead and see the doctor.
Managing Fever and Dehydration: Key Steps
It is crucial to address both conditions to manage fever and dehydration effectively. The steps mentioned below will help:
- Stay Hydrated: Drink water, clear broth, or electrolyte-rich beverages. Sports drinks or oral rehydration solutions can be beneficial in replenishing lost electrolytes. Avoid caffeinated and alcoholic drinks as they can contribute to dehydration.
- Cooling Measures: Dress lightly and use cool compresses to help lower body temperature during a fever. This can provide relief and aid in regulating body temperature.
- Medical Attention: If the fever persists or is accompanied by severe symptoms, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment.
When to see a doctor?
It is generally possible to manage a mild fever at home; however, it is crucial to recognize that it can sometimes indicate a serious medical condition requiring immediate attention.
According to studies, For infants, it is advisable to consult a doctor if:
- They are under 3 months old and have temperatures above 100.4°F (38°C).
- They are between 3 and 6 months old, have a temperature exceeding 102°F (38.9°C), and display unusual irritability, lethargy, or discomfort.
- They are between 6 and 24 months old, have a temperature higher than 102°F (38.9°C), and the fever persists for more than one day.
For children, it is recommended to seek medical attention if:
- They have a body temperature above 102.2°F (39°C).
- The fever lasts for more than three days.
- They exhibit poor eye contact.
- They appear restless or irritable.
- They have recently received immunizations.
- They have a serious medical illness or a weakened immune system.
- They have recently visited a developing country.
In case of the following circumstances, contacting your doctor is advisable:
- Having a body temperature exceeding 103°F (39.4°C).
- The fever lasts for more than three days.
- Having a serious medical illness or a weakened immune system.
- Recently visited a developing country.
If any of the following symptoms accompany a fever, it is essential to see a doctor as soon as possible:
- Severe headache
- Swelling in the throat
- Presence of a skin rash, particularly if it worsens
- Sensitivity to bright light
- Stiff neck and neck pain
- Persistent vomiting
- Listlessness or irritability
- Abdominal pain
- Painful urination
- Muscle weakness
- Difficulty breathing or chest pain
Sweating during a fever is not a very life-threatening or dangerous situation. It’s a bodily response to fight off the infections and bring your internal temperature to normal from being too high.
What you need to keep in mind is to let it sweat naturally and NOT intentionally. Maintaining proper hydration levels is beneficial during fever so take a watch on your diet.
Sweating out a Fever related FAQs
Is it safe to exercise when you have a fever?
How can you tell if a fever is serious?
A fever is considered serious if it is 103°F or higher, accompanied by symptoms such as difficulty breathing, severe headache, or chest pain. It is important to seek medical attention if you have a high fever and other concerning symptoms.
Is it okay to go to work or school with a fever?
No, it is not okay to go to work or school with a fever. This can put others at risk of getting sick, and it is important to rest and recover.
Can a fever cause brain damage?
While a high fever can be concerning, it is unlikely to cause brain damage in healthy individuals. However, individuals with pre-existing medical conditions may be at a higher risk of complications from a fever.
Does drinking alcohol help reduce a fever?
No, drinking alcohol does not help reduce a fever and can be dangerous. It is important to stay hydrated with water and other non-alcoholic fluids.
Should you alternate between fever-reducing medications?
It is important to follow the instructions on the medication label or as directed by a healthcare provider. Alternating between medications can be harmful and should be avoided.
Can stress cause a fever?
While stress can have an impact on the immune system, it is unlikely to cause a fever. A fever is typically a response to an infection or illness.