13 Tips for Managing a Fever


To seek medical advice safely, call your doctor or schedule an online visit. You can also contact your local health department. Avoid visiting a hospital emergency room unless you require immediate care. 

You may still have a case of ordinary flu or a milder infection, so it helps to know how to manage your condition. Learn more about what to do when you have a fever. 

Basic Facts about Fevers: 

1. Determine the causes. Most fevers are caused by viral or bacterial infections. They can also be related to other events like sunburns and some forms of arthritis. The correct treatment will depend on what produced your symptoms. 

2. Learn age guidelines. Age is a major factor in treating a fever. For babies 3 months or younger, call a doctor for any fever of 100.4F or higher. Most adults require medical care only if a fever is at least 103F or lasts for more than 3 days. Check reputable sources like the American Academy of Pediatrics to learn more about fevers for other age groups. 

3. Seek medical care. There are a few other cases when a fever may need more than home care. That includes patients with compromised immune systems or accompanying symptoms including rashes, stiff necks, or hallucinations. 

Taking Your Temperature: 

1. Expect fluctuations. It’s natural for body temperature to change throughout the day. It’s likely to rise in the late afternoon and evening, and after you eat or exercise. 

2. Choose your method. Oral and rectal digital thermometers are considered the most accurate. Most pediatricians recommend rectal thermometers for babies rather than armpit or forehead readings. 

3. Clean and store safely. Wash your hands and any thermometer thoroughly with soap and water. Label oral and rectal thermometers to prevent confusion. 

4. Follow instructions. Timing a digital thermometer is as easy as waiting for the beep. In case you have any questions, keep the instructions on hand. 

Managing Fevers: 

1. Stay in bed. A fever is part of a natural healing process that starts when your body releases chemicals that raise your temperature. You can help your immune system along by getting plenty of sleep and rest. 

2. Cool down. Forget about the ice baths and alcohol rubs you may see in the movies because intense cold will constrict your blood vessels. Instead, take a tepid bath or put a damp washcloth on your head. 

3. Drink fluids. Fevers can leave you dehydrated. Sip water and clear broth or suck on ice chips. Children under one may also need a rehydration solution to replace electrolytes. 

4. Avoid caffeine. Coffee and other products with caffeine can also shrink your blood vessels and trap in body heat. Switch to herbal tea for a few days. 

5. Try OTC medications. If your fever is making you uncomfortable, you may want to try acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin. Check the labels for correct dosages and side effects. 

6. Use herbs. If your symptoms are mild and tolerable, you may want to let your body heal naturally. There is some evidence that herbs like echinacea and ginger provide gentle relief without suppressing a fever. 

For adults, most fevers can be treated at home or they’ll quickly resolve on their own. In more serious cases, knowing when to seek prompt medical care will help to keep you and your loved ones safe and well. 

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