Getting sick is never fun. Something like the common cold can be an inconvenience, but is for the most part manageable. Running a fever, however, can take a toll on your body and keep you in bed for a few days. It’s common for your body temperature to fluctuate throughout the day, but having a fever means your normal temperature is higher than usual. This is an immune response to an illness or other anomaly in your body. If you’re an adult, a temperature above 100.4°F (38°C) is generally considered to be a fever.
It’s important to know how to reduce a fever. You can do this by understanding how to treat it at home in case you can’t receive immediate medical assistance. Read on to find out more about fevers (also known as hyperthermia in medical terms), and learn how you can alleviate its symptoms so you’re prepared when the heat is on!
What Are the Symptoms of a Fever?
A fever is generally associated with abnormal increases in body temperature, so that might be the only indicator. However, other common symptoms might be present, such as:
- Muscle aches (myalgias)
- Weakness or fatigue (asthenia)
- Loss of appetite
Other symptoms will depend on the condition that’s causing the fever, or how high it is.
Keep in mind: Temperatures above 41°C or 105.8°F are often associated with seizures. They can also affect and reduce organ function, which in extreme cases could lead to organ failure.
With the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, it’s natural to be concerned about COVID-19 since a fever is a common symptom of the virus. There are many types of infections that can cause a fever, however. In your case, it might just be a brief illness without serious implications. To protect yourself and your loved ones, check out our article on how to get free COVID-19 testing.
Warning Signs in Children
When children are very young and can’t communicate with us, it’s difficult for them to alert us if they have fever symptoms. There are signs to look out for to determine whether you should take their temperature. Some of these are:
- Appearance of being sick or unwell
- Increased heartbeat
- Increased respiratory rate
- Inconsolable crying
- Spots on their skin (these are usually reddish in color and look like tiny dots)
- Lethargy, listlessness
- Higher than normal temperature
"The presence of fever in children is indicative that something is happening in their body. There are cases when a parent should go to the emergency room and others where parents can handle it at home." - Dr. Jesús Garrido, Pediatrician
Remedies and Tips to Reduce a Fever
The following is a list of tips and remedies to alleviate fever symptoms. We suggest you:
The best way to treat a fever is to stay hydrated. The body typically loses fluids and water through functions like sweating, breathing, urination, and defecation. When you’re sick, however, this loss of fluid increases and must be replenished. Remember that the human body is made up of 50-70% water, making it essential to remain hydrated!
Keep in mind: Water, broth, and Jello will help you rehydrate. Drinks like soda, tea, and coffee may increase fluid loss, so it’s best to avoid them. Don’t consume alcoholic beverages or anything overly processed so you don’t stress your body while you’re experiencing fever symptoms. When in doubt, it’s better to be overly cautious. A fever can be brought on by many types of infections.
Getting at least seven hours of sleep each night is crucial to helping your body fight off infections and improving your overall health. It can feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day between managing chores, work, and life in general, but prioritizing a regular sleep schedule is essential to staying healthy.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that getting a good night's sleep has many health benefits and strengthens your immune system, which will help you recover faster.
Talk to your doctor
If your fever persists for more than a few days, make sure you talk with a trusted medical professional. Fever is the body's way of telling you that something’s wrong. A doctor can run different tests and evaluations to determine the fever’s cause and treat it properly.
For quality medical care, consider joining PODERsalud. It’s a membership program designed to help our community take care of their health. Members receive multiple discounts and unlimited virtual medical consultations, all for just $16.95 per month.
Take Fever-Reducing Medications
There are a number of medications that are ideal for counteracting fever. Also called antipyretics, they belong to the over-the-counter (OTC) group of medications.
There are three common fever reducers: acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and acetylsalicylic acid. Acetaminophen is commonly recommended as it’s one of the most effective treatments for lowering a fever when its cause is unknown. Ibuprofen is another popular treatment for bringing a fever down. In the case of prolonged illness, some medical professionals recommend alternating between the two to minimize side effects.
The recommended dose of acetaminophen for adults is 650 mg every six hours. This shouldn’t exceed 4,000 mg in a 24-hour period. The recommended dose of ibuprofen is 200 to 400 mg every six hours. An adult can take up to 2,400 mg of ibuprofen a day.
Keep in mind: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that overusing nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen can increase the risk of stroke and heart attack. They recommend reading labels carefully and controlling your intake of these medications.
Doses for children vary according to weight, age, and other factors. Some medicines are administered differently for kids, sometimes given in liquid form or chewable tablets. Specific instructions are included on how to administer the medicine to your child. If you have any questions, it’s best to consult with a doctor.
Keep in mind: KidsHealth recommends not giving any medication to an infant under two months without prior medical evaluation. Acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) is only indicated for use in adults. In children it’s not advised to administer this non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, due to its association with the risk of Reye's syndrome.
Antibiotics are often prescribed to treat infections, but taking them without knowing what illness you’re treating, whether it’s bacterial or viral, can be dangerous. Even if you’ve used antibiotics successfully in the past doesn’t mean you should take them without a medical evaluation. If you have any doubts about what medicine to take and for how long, always consult a healthcare professional.
Use a cold compress or take lukewarm bath
For adults, a cold compress on the forehead or taking a room temperature shower can counteract fever and help lower body temperature. For children, bathing with lukewarm water could work as well. This can be more helpful for babies than older children. Another tip is to use a wet wipe to rub the baby’s back, armpits, and abdomen in order to alleviate symptoms. Temperature of the surrounding environment can affect fever symptoms, so we recommend staying in a cool room.
Keep in mind: Remember that these home treatments only provide temporary relief. Ideally, determining the root cause of the fever will relieve symptoms for good. When combined with the right medications, the methods above tend to have a better effect.
Cool Down and Say Goodbye to Fever Symptoms!
It’s always good to be prepared when a fever comes on so you can try to treat symptoms at home. If you or a loved one has a high and persistent fever, our top recommendation is to always seek professional medical advice. Remember, SABEResPODER!
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