Fever occurs when a person's body temperature rises above the normal range. Although fevers tend to be harmless, they can cause great discomfort. A very high or persistent fever sometimes requires medical attention, though most fevers only require treatment with home remedies.
Some other causes include inflammatory conditions, certain cancers, and reactions to drugs or vaccines.
However, there are many ways to treat a fever at home. In this article, learn about some safe and effective fever home remedies for people of all ages.
The average body temperature is around 98.6°F (37°C). However, body temperature fluctuates naturally throughout the day, especially with physical activity.
A low grade fever occurs when a person's body temperature reaches 100–102°F (37.8 to 39°C). A high grade fever occurs when a person's body temperature exceeds 104°F (40°C).
Aside from a higher body temperature, a person with a fever may also experience:
Symptoms of a febrile seizure include:
- eye rolling
- stiffness in the arms or legs
- loss of consciousness
Febrile seizures tend to last a few minutes and do not usually cause any serious health problems. However, a child who has had a febrile seizure is more likely to have them again in future.
There are several things an adult can do to feel more comfortable when they have a fever. These include:
Drinking lots of fluids
During a fever, the body needs to use more water to compensate for its elevated temperature. This can lead to dehydration.
Drinking water or an electrolyte replacement drink can help rehydrate the body.
Fighting an infection takes a lot of energy. People should rest as much as possible to help the body recover.
Taking a tepid bath
Many people consider taking a cold bath when they have a fever. However, doing so can cause shivering, which will increase body temperature even more.
Instead, people can take a lukewarm or tepid bath to help the body cool off. A bath can also help soothe tired muscles.
Using over-the-counter medications
Medications are not usually necessary to treat a fever. However, some over-the-counter (OTC) medications can help reduce a fever and make a person feel more comfortable. These medications include:
Having a fever can cause a person to feel hot one minute and cold the next. Wearing too many layers can trap heat against the body, raising body temperature further.
People should wear few layers and add more if they start to feel cold.
The treatments for fever in children are very similar to those for adults. However, there are a few subtle differences.
For example, to treat a fever, children and infants should try:
Drinking plenty of fluids
Like adults, children with a fever also need plenty of fluids. However, it can be difficult to get young children to drink extra water.
Some more appealing alternatives include:
- warm chicken broth
- flavored jello
- diluted fruit juice
Children may feel better after taking OTC medications. As a result, they may feel more energetic and playful.
However, it is important to ensure that children rest until the fever or illness has passed.
If a child cannot sleep or relax, parents and caregivers can try reading them a story or playing them some gentle music.
Taking warm baths
Children are unlikely to appreciate bathing when they are sick. An alternative option is to place a warm washcloth on the child's forehead to help soothe the fever.
People should never apply rubbing alcohol to a child's skin in an attempt to soothe a fever. Alcohol can be dangerous when absorbed into the skin.
Taking OTC medications
As with adults, medication is not usually necessary for a child with fever. However, taking OTC medications can help reduce a fever and make a child feel more comfortable.
One drug that is suitable for children of most ages is acetaminophen. It is available under the brand name Tylenol.
Tylenol's manufacturers state that it is suitable for use even in very young infants. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not supply dosage instructions for acetaminophen in children under 2 years of age.
People who wish to treat a young infant should ask their doctor's or pharmacist's advice on appropriate dosages.
Some medications are not suitable for children under certain ages. These include aspirin, which is not suitable for people under 16 years of age, and ibuprofen, which is not suitable for children under 3 months of age or those who weigh under 5 kilograms.
Ibuprofen is also not suitable for children with asthma.
People should be sure to see a doctor if they or their child experience a very high or persistent fever that does not respond to medication.
It is also important to seek medical attention if the fever is accompanied by any of the following symptoms:
These symptoms could indicate a more serious infection, such as meningitis.
The threshold for seeking medical treatment is typically lower for children and infants than it is for adults. In general, people should seek medical treatment for a child who:
- is under 3 months old and has a fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher
- is 3–6 months old and has a temperature of 102.2°F (39°C) or higher
- has a fever that has lasted for longer than 5 days
- has other signs of illness, such as a rash
- has symptoms of dehydration, such as sunken eyes, a lack of tears when crying, or nappies that are not very wet
- is not eating and seems generally unwell
Fever is a common symptom of infection and inflammation. In most cases, a person can help soothe a fever at home.
A fever does not usually require medical treatment. However, taking OTC medications can lower a person's body temperature and help them feel more comfortable.
It is important to remember that some medications are not suitable for children under certain ages. Always check appropriate treatments and dosages with a doctor or pharmacist before administering them to a child or infant.
A person should see a doctor if they or their child experience a high or persistent fever that does not respond to medication. A fever that is accompanied by more serious signs of illness also requires medical attention.