Ice cold water or tap water to bring fever down?

@agrim94 (3809)
India
May 6, 2009 4:23am CST
When ever a child or even grown up has a very high fever doctors ask to wet sponge or put a wet cloth on the forehead of the sick person. No one ever ask him what should be temperature of water. Should it be ice cold or normal tap water at room temperature. Which one have you used?
5 people like this
22 responses
@asweetie (1189)
• India
6 May 09
i THINK it depends on how high is the temperature and how quickly you want to bring it down. If the temperature is really very very high then you need to put on ice cold water and if the temperature is not that high then you would want it to comedown gradually so not so ice cold water. I dont think it would shock anyone if you pour sudden cold water on body.
1 person likes this
@agrim94 (3809)
• India
11 May 09
hi asweetie, You are wrong on all counts. Ice cold water would not bring down the temperature for the simple reason when it is cold outside and our skin gets cold then the body would want to conserve the heat it has so it would send minimal amount of blood to the skin. now if the blood flow is less and your blood capillaries constricts, it would not allow heat loss . if heat is not lost then fever wont come down. So we want to do something that would make person loose internal heat. So if we use tap water then skin wont go cold and defensive system of body wont start and it would keep sending blood to skin normally which would be then lost by skin absorbed by the water and if there is fan on then it would also cause little bit of evaporation which would make skin slightly cool but not enough that blood supply of skin is diminished and it would help bringing down internal temperature of the body.
• United States
6 May 09
Agrim- It should be lukewarm or tepid bathwater. Ice-cold bath water could drop the body temperature too quickly and cause shock. In the past I've never used cold compresses with my children. I keep them lightly covered or in pajamas when they are sick, and take any measures as directed by my doctor such as tylenol or motrin. Namaste-Anora
@agrim94 (3809)
• India
11 May 09
thanks Anora_ Eldorath for the response and you are right about the tepid water but wrong about the ice cold water. Ice cold water would make skin pretty cold and would cause capillaries to constrict. Also body thinks it is very cold outside so defense system of body gets activated and blood supply to the skin is greatly reduced as body would want to keep all the heat it has in it. So the person would feel cold to touch but if you take the temperature to that sick person, it wont show much fall in mercury.
1 person likes this
• United States
11 May 09
Agrim- No. You risk sending them into shock. My husband can tell you this for a fact as he used to be a Medic. If you rapidly cool or rapidly heat a person they can be sent into shock. It's stressed, especially with heat and cold injuries, because with cold weather related injuries you want to warm the person but you can't do it too quickly because you'll do more harm. The same hold trues for hot weather injuries. You want to be able to cool them down, but if you do it too quickly they can be sent into shock. That is why doctors suggest tepid bath water to bring down the fever of a child, or they tell you to bring a child into the ER if they have a temperature of a 105 because they are equipped to bring the temperature down slowly without shock to the child. If the child is an infant, if their body temperature hits 100 degrees you should be calling their doctor. Typically a mix of tylenol and motrin will help bring body temperature down, but an infant should never be submerged in an ice bath. Namaste-Anora
• United States
18 May 09
Thank you for the BR. I've been really enjoying your comments on my threads, as well as all of your discussions you've created. They have been very thought provoking. I wish you well on Mylot, and look forward to more of your threads. Namaste-Anora
@mysdianait (55653)
• Italy
6 May 09
I asked the doctor the same thing when my son was tiny. I was told to remove heavy clothes, blankets and use a sponge with water at room temperatire to bring help eas the temperature. Once the temperature dropped though it was important he was not in a cool place or in a draught. As the other responses suggested, ice-cold water can be a shock to the system.
@agrim94 (3809)
• India
11 May 09
hi mysdianait, Thank for the response and no ice cold water wont shock system much but what it would do is that it would make skin very cold and when skin is cold as a body defense mechanisms get activated and blood supply to skin is highly reduced so body dont loose heat. So sponging with very cold water would not let the body loose heat. And your doctor is right that if possible remove as much clothes as possible and if it is summer on the fan too and sponge with normal water.
1 person likes this
@mysdianait (55653)
• Italy
11 May 09
Ah! Great an very logical explanation! Thank you Agrim!
@chookie1971 (2278)
• Australia
13 May 09
Majority of response saying tap water. I am going to agree with them for the following reason. Those who understand the science of the human body will understand what I am going to say. When we get hot, we sweat. The sun evaporates the fluids which is part of the body's natural cooling mechanism. By using the tap or room temperature water, we are trying to reproduce the body's natural cooling system. The only reason why you would use ice cold water or even ice, is the stop or reduce any swelling on the body or joints.
@agrim94 (3809)
• India
13 May 09
Hi chookie, Thx for the response and yes you are right in cold body try to retain as much heat as possible and doesnt allow it to cool, this is true of all hot blooded mammals and hence chilled water would never bring the temperature down.
@mjmlagat (3171)
• Philippines
13 May 09
As for my kids, it all depends on the temperature of the fever. If the child is so hot as to near convulsion, I would use ice packs/bags but if it's just a mere raising of temperature from normal, I just use tap water.
@agrim94 (3809)
• India
13 May 09
hi mjmlagat, Thanks for the response and well ice cold water wont help at all and you should always use room temperature water to bring the temperature down along with paracetamol tabs.
@radzlee (77)
• Malaysia
13 May 09
My mom,always used a water from tap when i or brothers and sister got fever. It work to reduce the tempeture from the fever. Anyway i thik using ice also can so good luck :)
@agrim94 (3809)
• India
13 May 09
hi radzlee, well ice would never bring down the temperature as it would fool body in thinking it is very cold outside and body would retain every bit of heat it has to last as long as possible in freezing cold. Sponging with room temperature water would bring down the temperature more than anything else along with paracetamol tablets.
@Amberina (1542)
• United States
11 May 09
I used to get sick twice a year my allergies would bring on pneumonia which turned into bronchitis so needless to say I was very sick as a child until the age of seven when the Dr went hmm maybe it's her allergies that's bringing all this on...anyway once that was figured out mom would see that my allergies where bothering me and she would give me an expectorant and some vicks cough syrup and I would be fine. But before the Dr found out was what causing it whenever I got a fever which happened every time I got sick my mom would pile the blankets on me to break my fever. I HATED THAT!!! lol I got so hot but it broke my fever every time now they advise you NOT to do that with your kids because it can make the fever last longer and do more damage. I can't say i get that many fevers today though even when I'm sick which I hardly ever get sick but when I do I don't run a very high fever.
@agrim94 (3809)
• India
13 May 09
hi Amberina, Thanks for the response and blankets to break a fever is not good thing and it would make body more hot. We should always sponge the body with room temperature water and can have a fan at low speed if the patient is not having chills.
@jlamela (4910)
• Philippines
11 May 09
I think cold water is more effective than tap water, because that's what many health professionals have been using for many years.
@agrim94 (3809)
• India
11 May 09
Hi Jlamela, thanks for the response but what i came to conclusion with discussion with medical students is that they say never use very cold water to bring the temperature down as it wont bring it down. If your skin gets cold body is fooled in to thinking hey it is very cold outside and it would try to conserve every bit of heat it has so it would send less blood to skin and since blood flow would take heat to skin to be absorbed by water and if blood flow is less , temp loss would be minimal. so the patient would be very cold to touch but it you take thermometer and see his temperature, mercury wont fall much.
8 May 09
I would use tap water mgraham126
@agrim94 (3809)
• India
11 May 09
Hi mgraham, thanks for the response and yes you are right we should use tap or room temperature water.
@lynnemg (4541)
• United States
8 May 09
If you are bringing down a fever, use tepid water..not too cold, but slightly cool. The only time you should use ice cold water to bring down a fever is if the doctor tells you to. It is good to put the person in a tub of tepid water, or to even run the shower on them to bring it down. If the water is too cold, you can put the person into shock. You don't want to do that.
@agrim94 (3809)
• India
11 May 09
Hi lynnemg, Thanks for the reply and ice cold water is never used to bring down temperature as it wont help in bringing down temperature. Cooler the water less is heat loss as when skin gets very cold body limits blood supply to skin thinking it is very cold outside and it should conserve all the heat it has.
• China
8 May 09
I think a sick person shouldn't suffer much irritation because he/she is in a weak condition. And too cold water maybe will gives him/her much irritation. So I think tap water is a better choice.
@agrim94 (3809)
• India
11 May 09
hi xingxingsky, Thanks for the response and you are right tap water sponging is best for the body . Colder the water lesser is heat loss from the body.
• United States
7 May 09
i would use room temperature.i have heard some people can go into shock if you put cold water on them.depends on how sick they are,i guess.
@agrim94 (3809)
• India
11 May 09
Thanks scarlet woman for the response and well colder the water, less is heat loss as body in colder times make sure it looses as less heat as possible and if you put very cold water body would try not to loose any heat it has.
@Opal26 (17694)
• United States
7 May 09
Hey agrim! The water should be cool. Not ice cold, but as cool as it can be without being freezing cold! You don't want to make the person who is sick and probably already has chills from the fever too cold too fast! If you use cool water it will help bring the fever down gradually.
@agrim94 (3809)
• India
11 May 09
hi opal 26, Thanks for the response to my discussion and cooler the water less loss is the heat. It is body defense which wont make body loose heat thinking it is very cold outside and it should preserve heat as much as possible. so the best option is to use tap water. If possible make him wear as less clothes as possible and if you have fan then switch it on at low speed. when body temperature is down then you can give him some light loose fitting clothes to wear.
@savypat (20248)
• United States
6 May 09
Never use ice water, that can shock the system. Cool water is good and you can even place the child in the bath of cool water or a cool shower to help reduce fever.
@agrim94 (3809)
• India
11 May 09
Thanks savypat for the response and you are right about ice cold water though the person wont go in shock but icecold water would kick defense system of body to start up and it sends very less blood to skin and wont let heat loose.
@ANTIQUELADY (36494)
• United States
6 May 09
i have used both. i think it depends on how high the fever is. i have heard of them having to emerge a person in a tub of ice cold water, thank heavens i never had to do that with my kids. putting a rag in ice cold water does last longer than tap water does, seems like it can get warm pretty quick when u just use tap water . it's hard to know what to do when someone is sick sometimes. i never did handle it very well when my kids were sick.
@agrim94 (3809)
• India
11 May 09
Hi Antiquelady, Thanks for responding to my discussion and no one should use very cold water to bring down temperature as it wont bring it down. It would fool body to think it is very cold outside and defense mechanism of the body kicks in and it doesnt send much blood to skin and wont let heat loose. So the person may be cold to touch but if you take his temperature then it would be nearly the same.
1 person likes this
@myfb2009 (8308)
• Malaysia
6 May 09
Since from my mother's time, she usually use wet cloth with normal tap water. And not allow us to wear thick clothes. If it was really very high fever, she usually will put another wet cloth on top of our chest area, to suck out the heat from that area, as well..Now, i am also using this method on my toddler and i felt it works very well...
@agrim94 (3809)
• India
11 May 09
Thanks myfb for the response and your mother is cent percent right in using normal tap water , as very cold water fools body in thinking hey it is very cold outside so save heat and reduce blood flow to skin. So if you use very cold water , skin would be very cold but if you use thermometer it would show same temperature nearly as it was before sponging.
• India
6 May 09
I have always known it to be normal tap water. My mother used tap water for me and I too have used tap water whenever my son had high temperature. Ice cold water might actually be counterproductive in such high temperature.
@agrim94 (3809)
• India
11 May 09
Hi sudipta, Thanks for the response and yes it is counter productive as skin gets cold, body thinks it is cold outside so save heat and it reduces blood flow to the skin and hardly any heat loss occurs.
@paula27661 (15900)
• Australia
6 May 09
I would think, as other have suggested, that it is safer to gradually bring the body's temperature down with water at room temperature although I have read of people with high fevers being placed in bath tubs full of ice blocks. I would think that could shock a person to have a heart attack! Best to check with a doctor to find out for sure.
@agrim94 (3809)
• India
11 May 09
Hi paula, Thanks for the response and i see you have changed your profile pic. It is very good one. You are right on one account that is not to use very cold water as it wont bring temperature down because body wont loose heat . As the skin gets cold the blood supply to skin is reduced and thus chances of heat lose from skin are diminished as more the blood supply more is heat lose from skin. So a person may feel cold to touch but infact heat loss is minimal and if you take his temperature it wont show much fall.
• Philippines
6 May 09
I think cold water helps in lowering down the body temperature than the tap water.. I could still remember my teacher once told me that it's much better to let the person drink cold water also as it also lowers the temp.
@agrim94 (3809)
• India
11 May 09
Hi galileo, well it is not cold water which would help you bring the temprature down but if sponge the sick with room temperature water then it would come down faster . Yes it is a myth that since water is more cold then it would make body cool but actually this ice cold water wouldn't let body loose heat.
• Philippines
15 Jun 09
i use a tap water. water directly from the faucet in order t col down my child fever. but when the fever is very a I put ice on it so that it easily col down.