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The Best Medicine is No Medicine.

One of the dreaded complaints that children make is when they say they have a fever. A traditional Filipino remedy is to give a vinegar bath to help lower the child’s body temperature. Clinically, fever is defined as an elevated body temperature of 0.3°C or more than the average reading at the site where the temperature is taken

       Rectal temperature                                 38º C

       Ear temperature                                       38º C

       Oral temperature                                     37.6º C

       Axillary (armpit) temperature             37.2º C.

The body temperature varies from time to time and usually reaches its highest between 4 to 6 p.m. and the lowest at 5 to 7 a.m. This variation is greater in children than in adults and usually more prominent during episodes of fever.

In ancient times, fever was noted to be beneficial. However, in the mid-19th century, it is considered a harmful effect of infection which gave rise to the discovery and abuse of antipyretics. But for the past 30 years, there has been enough evidence to prove that fever production is actually protective and really benefits the patient. Fever is a signal that the body is reacting to a foreign substance, disturbance or intrusion.

Fever involves both the immune system and the central nervous system. It is a response to any virus or bacteria that produce substances called exogenous pyrogens inside the body. It may also be a result of hypersensitivity reaction, autoimmune diseases or malignancies in the absence of infection.

Imagine the virus or bacteria as an alien ship attempting to attack earth. The exogenous pyrogens are like laser gun rays from the alien ship that the earth’s radar — the body’s reticulo-endothelial system — picks up. The radar sends a signal to the earth’s initial defense camp, which fights back by releasing its own endogenous pyrogens. One of these rays trigger a reaction in the central defense station to activate the force shield (fever) to protect the earth (our body).

It’s important for you to find out the cause of the fever and treat it rather than be fixated on its disappearance.


Use cool water to reduce fever but don’t use this if patient has cold feet/and or cold legs even if the fever is high, but instead use a hot compress to the feet.

You may do cool leg compresses by preparing the following:

Thick cotton cloth like a bath towel—to put over the bed so as not to ruin or wet the mattress;

Two to three liters of water in a bowl or small basin – several degrees cooler than the patient’s body temperature

Lemon or fruit vinegar – ½ slice or 2 tbsp. of squeezed-out juice

Two cloths  : One inner cloth (silk, linen, or cotton and One outer cloth (wool, silk or cotton which is larger than the inner cloth)

Steps to do: One cloth should cover the child’s leg just below the knee down to the ankle and wrapped around the leg about 1 & ½ times. Prepare four of these at one time so that you can replace the used ones immediately.Roll the cloth and dip thoroughly in the cold water with lemon or fruit vinegar. Squeeze it until it no longer drips.Wrap it around the leg from the ankle to just below the knee. Secure it in place with a wool sock, a woolen scarf or a thick cotton cloth. The patient must be fully covered during the treatment with a light blanket or sheet. Replace the used cloth after five or 10 minutes with fresh ones immediately while the leg is still wet. Repeat three times and wait for half an hour before continuing. Stop treatment if the patient’s feet are cold.


Colds are upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) which involve the nasal passage, throat, sinuses, and sometimes the eyes. They usually come in the form of a runny nose and cough. When the mucus drips down from the nose to the posterior pharynx, through the throat (“postnasal drip”), and down to the windpipe (trachea), coughing occurs to clear the airway from the debris that accumulates. This “dripping” of mucus down from the nose to the trachea increases with gravity so that the cough worsens or is more frequent when your child sleeps at night.

Colds are usually caused by viruses and in most cases, are self-limiting or resolve on their own within seven to 10 days so do not require use of antibiotics.

Simple tips to relieve cold symptoms are as follows:

Use a cool mist humidifier or vaporizer to help relieve nasal congestion.Instill normal saline drops in the nostrils (one to two drops per nostril).Use a bulb aspirator to remove the mucus that accumulates in the nose.

Elevate the head when the baby is lying down to help relieve gagging or choking on post-nasal drainage.

However, if your child has cough or colds for more than three to seven days or with other symptoms like fever, ear complaints, abnormal appetite or activity, rapid or noisy breathing, and sleepiness, you need to consult with a health professional. Don’t wait for the symptoms to worsen like if your child becomes pale or blue because by then it may already be too late.

Illustration by Liz Jocano

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