A fever occurs when your body temperature is higher than normal.
Though body temperatures can vary from person to person, normal body temperature is usually around 98.6°F (37°C). In adults, a fever is recognized when body temperature is above 100.4°F.
While there can be variations in body temperature depending on ambient environment, activity, hormone levels, and other factors, a true fever is above 100.4°F.
It is also important that once a fever is established, you keep your distance from others, as you could be contagious.
In most cases, a fever is a sign of an infection (bacterial or viral). As your body fights the infection, your body temperature rises.
A fever works to activate your body’s immune system and most bacteria and viruses have a harder time surviving in your body when you have a fever.
It’s important to note that having a fever is not a disease or condition, but typically a symptom. Still, having one can be uncomfortable.
Thankfully, there are several home remedies that can work to lower your fever and soothe your discomfort.
Drink Plenty of Fluids
Drinking plenty of fluids is important when you have a fever, as it can help to prevent dehydration and keep your body cool.
If you’re also experiencing a sore throat as a result of an underlying infection, drinking cool fluids can also help to soothe your sore throat.
Types of fluids that can help to soothe a fever include:
- Decaffeinated or non-caffeinated tea
- Sports drinks
It’s important to avoid drinking caffeinated drinks, like coffees, teas, and some types of sodas, as these can also contribute to dehydration.
Keep in mind that in most cases, drinking fluids will not significantly lower your fever.
However, it will help to soothe your symptoms and prevent dehydration.
Suck on Ice
Sucking on ice cubes or ice pops can also help to soothe a sore throat and prevent dehydration.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that sucking on ice or drinking ice cold water can temporarily lower oral temperature readings.
With that in mind, it’s important to wait between 15 minutes and 30 minutes (depending on your age) after sucking on ice or drinking ice water before measuring your oral temperature to ensure an accurate reading.
Fighting an infection can make you feel tired and achy.
Giving yourself as much rest as needed can help your body to fight the underlying infection. However, there’s no need to force rest or sleep once you start to feel better.
Take OTC Medication
Over-the-counter (OTC) medications, including ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), acetaminophen (Tylenol), and aspirin, are the fastest way to significantly lower a fever.
These medications should be taken with food. Your provider may recommend taking one of these medications if you or your child have a particularly high fever.
Keep in mind that it may take between 30 and 45 minutes for the medication to start working and it’s important not to exceed the recommended dosage in a 24 hour period (these medications are also not recommended for children under the age of six).
Additionally, though OTC medications can help to lower your fever, it may not bring your fever down to your normal temperature, and the effect may only be temporary.
Apply a Cool Compress
Applying a cool compress to your forehead and wrists can help to soothe and bring down a fever.
Take a Lukewarm Bath
Taking a lukewarm (not cool or cold) bath can also help to reduce a fever and relax the muscles in your body.
Use a Humidifier
Drink Bone Broth
Drinking clear broths and soups can help to keep your body hydrated.
If your appetite has decreased as a result of the infection, drinking broths and soups can also help to deliver important nutrients that will help to keep your body strong as you fight an infection.
Eat Small Meals
Many people have heard the adage “feed a cold, starve a fever,” but in reality it’s important to eat when you’re hungry, even if you have a fever.
Many people may have reduced appetites when they have a fever, which is why soups and smaller meals can help to ensure they’re still getting the proper nutrients they need.
Eating smaller, lighter meals can also help to avoid overwhelming the digestive system, which can become temporarily weaker as a result of certain infections.
Wear Lightweight Clothing
Wearing lightweight clothing and using lightweight blankets while sleeping or resting can help to keep your body temperature down.
This is especially important if you’re also experiencing chills, which can make some people want to wear heavier clothes or blankets.
Unfortunately, this can keep your fever from coming down or make it go higher.
Try Herbal Remedies
However, more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of these herbal remedies at reducing fever in humans.
Before trying any herbal remedies to treat your fever, it’s important to speak with your healthcare provider first, as there may be some risks and contraindications.
When To See a Healthcare Professional
Most fevers can be treated at home. But if you’re experiencing a fever of 103°F or higher, reach out to your healthcare provider or seek emergency care.
Additional symptoms that warrant more immediate medical attention are:
- A fever that does not improve after three days of rest and home care
- Severe headache
- Severe throat swelling
- Unusual skin rash
- Sensitivity to bright light
- Stiff neck (or pain when you bend your head forward)
- Mental confusion
- Persistent vomiting
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- Abdominal pain
- Pain when urinating
- Extreme fatigue
- Extreme irritability
- Muscle weakness
- Sensory changes
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Frequently Asked Questions
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.
K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
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