Fever

  • Medical Author:
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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What is the treatment for a fever?

Generally, if the fever does not cause discomfort, the fever itself need not be treated. It is not necessary to awaken an adult or child to treat a fever unless instructed to do so by a doctor.

The following fever-reducing medications may be used at home:

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol and others) can be used to lower a fever. The recommended pediatric dose can be suggested by the child's pediatrician. Adults without liver disease or other health problems can take 1,000 mg (two "extra-strength" tablets) every six hours or as directed by a physician. The makers of Tylenol state the maximum recommended dose of acetaminophen per day is 3,000 mg, or six extra-strength tablets per 24 hours, unless directed by a doctor. Regular-strength Tylenol tablets are 325 mg; the recommended dosage for these is two tablets every four to six hours, not to exceed 10 tablets per 24 hours. If your fever is accompanied by vomiting and you are unable to keep oral medications down, ask a pharmacist for acetaminophen suppositories, which are available without a prescription.
  • Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) can also be used to break a fever in patients over 6 months of age. Discuss the best dose with a doctor. For adults, generally 400 mg to 600 mg (two to three 200 mg tablets) can be used every six hours as fever reducers.
  • Naproxen (Aleve) is another nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that can temporarily reduce fever. The adult dose is two tablets every 12 hours.
  • Aspirin should not be used for fever in children or adolescents. Aspirin use in children and adolescents during a viral illness (especially chickenpox and influenza, or flu) has been associated with Reye's syndrome. Reye's syndrome is a dangerous illness that causes prolonged vomiting, confusion, and even coma and liver failure.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/1/2016

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