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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Ever rubbed alcohol to cool down a feverish person? You’re not alone, but…

Many people can relate with the topic of this article, considering that Mama has probably rubbed alcohol on your body when you had fever as a child!

Or, grandma might just have wielded it as a potent weapon against high fever which always comes with high body temperature.

More often than not, parents do “enrich” the mix with herbs, and the patient might even be encouraged to take a spoonful of the treatment.

Whatever it is, physicians are saying this is a wrong way to approach or treat fever!

Using alcohol this way can cause serious harm, doctors say; noting that “Isopropyl alcohol is quickly absorbed through the skin, and large amounts applied topically can be inhaled, which can lead to alcohol poisoning and other problems.”

Researchers warn that a number of case reports in the medical literature describe small children who slipped into comas after a caregiver tried to reduce their fevers with alcohol. Other reports have described cases in which adults suffered cardiac and neurological problems after using alcohol-soaked towels to cool down or ease pain.

According to online portal, Cleveland Clinic, “This so-called home remedy is actually an extremely unsafe practice that can cause severe health issues.”

Pediatrician Maureen Ahmann, advises, “Do not wipe your child down with rubbing alcohol. It can ultimately be more dangerous for your child than the fever itself.”

Part of the problem is the substance in question is different from “edible” alcohol. In fact, to differentiate it from the alcohol that could be consumed, this type of alcohol is called “rubbing alcohol,” which is a household chemical product made with isopropanol, also known as isopropyl alcohol or 2-propanol.

RUBBING ALCOHOL CAN CAUSE SEVERE HEALTH ISSUES

“It has a variety of uses, including disinfecting surfaces and, when used in very small amounts, cleaning bug bites and piercing sites,” researchers say.

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Online portal, chemicals.co.uk, states that, “Rubbing alcohol is definitely not the type of alcohol you would drink, because of its high proof. Isopropyl-based rubbing alcohol doesn’t contain the ethyl alcohol that you need in alcoholic drinks; and ethyl-based rubbing alcohol uses denatured alcohol, which includes at least one bitter poison that renders it toxic.” And it is this toxic content that makes it inadvisable to use it to “calm down” a high temperature.

Experts do agree that rubbing alcohol on the skin can provide a temporary cooling effect, which is why it might seem like a good move to treat a fever. But that effect is fleeting, lasting for just a minute or two — and more importantly, it can cause severe health issues.

Talking about the usual resultant side effects, Dr. Ahmann warns,  “Products that you apply to the skin are absorbed through the skin and into the body. If what you’re putting on your (or your child’s) skin is dangerous, it can cause health problems once it sinks in.

YOU CAN GIVE FEVERISH PERSON A LUKEWARM BATH OR SHOWER — BUT NOT A COLD BATH, WHICH CAN ACTUALLY RAISE THEIR TEMPERATURE EVEN FURTHER

“As its name suggests, rubbing alcohol contains alcohol. Once it’s absorbed into the sick person’s skin, it enters their bloodstream, which can cause serious and even life-threatening changes in their body’s ability to function.”

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The resultant effects such as alcohol poisoning, coma, cardiac and neurological problems, can lead to permanent brain damage or even death, experts say.

“The potential side effects are so dangerous that you should never apply rubbing alcohol to the skin to try to bring down a high temperature,” Dr. Ahmann reiterates.

As a first aid, “You can put a cool washcloth on their forehead, back or under their arms,” Dr. Ahmann advises; “and you can give them a lukewarm bath or shower — but not a cold bath, which can actually raise their temperature even further.”

The bottom line

See the doctor without delay as necessary.

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