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As I remember, when I caught a fever in my childhood, my dad and mom often put a frozen towel in front of my forehead when I was sleeping, in addition to regular treats like hot water and proper medicine. This doesn't seem to be an isolated case, but a rather prevalent method instead.

If I learned correctly, fever is a body temperature that's higher than normal (> 37.5°C). The body raises its temperature as a defensive method against invading micro-creatures like bacteria and fungi. I doubt a bit whether cooling forcefully in this way really helps because it doesn't appear that logical, even if intuitive.

  • Need to find some references, but: Becsuse bacteria and viruses usually thrive at body temperature, the hypothalamus increases the temperature to kill off the bacteria and the virus. And then it’s basically a game of who stops functioning first, the bacteria or the brain. From temperatures like 42 degree upward in adults, the brain will be permanently damaged. For children, fever seizures can occur at lower temperatures. This is why a wet cloth around one‘s head seems like a sensible countermeasure. If the fever is actually that high, of course you need to see a doctor, but the cloth increases – Narusan Jan 11 at 20:06
  • [cont‘d] comfortability. At least for me, when I‘m really hot, I‘d kill for refreshments. The wet cloth doesn’t decrease body temperature by a significant amount (dunno if it has any effect on the temperature of the brain, but most probably not), so it doesn’t hamper the immune reaction. – Narusan Jan 11 at 20:08
  • Do you know that a single cool compress on the forehead actually does reduce fever? – Carey Gregory Jan 12 at 0:26
  • The problem is, does it really help cure (or recover from) fever, in addition to protect the brain from overheating? (Speaking of myself, the highest record I can recall is only 39.7 °C when I was 12 or up - not dangerous) – iBug Jan 12 at 2:02
  • That's what I'm asking you. Your personal experiences are beside the point. Have you done any research on this? Do you know that a single cool compress actually has any effect on a fever as your question assumes? – Carey Gregory Jan 12 at 2:58

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