How to Break a Fever

Written by Resurchify | Updated on: February 14, 2023

How to Break a Fever

Having a fever can be exasperating. A person is uncomfortable and sweaty, so it only makes complete sense to find himself searching for tricks and tips to follow for breaking his fever as soon as possible. 

It is important to know that a fever is considered an underlying symptom that something is going on with the body of a person, he can not get a fever out anywhere. As a result of this, treating the inherent condition might help a person get rid of his fever as per a primary care physician, Hannah Goldberg, M.D., with Mercy Medical Center. Still, there tend to exist several things that can be done by a person in the meantime to make him feel better and break the fever he has been suffering from. 

Whether a person is dealing with a cold, flu, inflammatory condition, or pneumonia, continue reading to know more about certain remedies and related information that will help him feel better while his body tries to find a perfect balance. 

Temperature Taking 101

Many people tend to have 98.6°F, that is 37°C, as a baseline temperature of their body. Additionally, there might be a few people with a baseline slightly lower or higher than this level. A daily fluctuation in the body temperature is pretty normal; the result yielded by one thermometer can vary from another. 

A person is considered to be suffering from fever if an ear, oral, temporal artery (forehead), or rectal thermometer registers 100°F or 38°C or a slightly higher temperature. If a person makes use of an armpit or axillary thermometer, the reading given by the thermometer will be 1°F or 1°C lower than the actual temperature. So, any reading that is over 99.4°F or 37°C would constitute a person running a fever. 

Various pediatricians tend to recommend the use of a rectal thermometer for a baby or infant. A person should always consider discussing with his doctor the type of thermometer he must use while he is running a fever. In addition, he should also be sure to let them be aware of the kind of thermometer he uses to record the temperature of his child. 

How To Break A Fever?

Start By Waiting It Out

If a person is running a fever, he must always remember this: Fever is not considered an illness itself, but it is a symptom of a hidden disease affecting the body. In essence, the natural defenses of the body can largely shorten any illness with a quick response and raise the power of antibiotics. Such natural processes happening inside the body must be weighed against the discomfort a person is facing as a result of not medicating a low fever and letting it stay intact in its course, says the author of The Johnson & Johnson First-Aid Book, Stephen N. Rosenberg. 

Always Remember To Hydrate

When a person is hot, his body tends to sweat a lot to cool him down. But if he ends up losing a lot of water, as he might actually do when running a high fever, his body might turn off the sweat ducts to the prevention of loss of water further, making it more complex for him to cope with his fever. The moral of the story? It is simple, drink up a lot. 

In addition to consuming plain water, experts also advise drinking watered-down juice. Irrespective of the nutrition level of straight juice, it is considered too concentrated to consume in any quantity when a person is running a fever and might cause diarrhea. Start by diluting 100 percent vegetable or fruit juice along with 1 part water and 1 part juice to make it easy for the body to absorb and show positive effects. 

Opting For Ice

If a person is very nauseated to drink liquids, he can consider sucking on ice. For enjoying a variety, a person can always freeze fruit or vegetable juice in an ice tray. 

Cool Yourself Down With Wet Compresses

Wet compressed helps the body of a person to reduce the temperature output. Ironically, moist and hot compresses can do the job perfectly. If a person starts feeling uncomfortable and hot, he can remove the compresses and apply cool ones on his calves, forehead, and wrists. Always remember to keep the rest of the body completely covered. If the fever rises to any temperature above 103°F, refrain from using hot compresses. Instead, consider applying cool compresses to prevent the fever from getting higher. Change the compresses as they help the body to get warm to a normal body temperature and continue until the fever successfully drops. 

Try Sponging Off Instead

Evaporation also tends to possess a cooling effect on the temperature of the body. A person can try dabbing cold water on his skin to dissipate excessive heat of the body, says a nurse clinician from Philadelphia, Mary Ann Pane, R.N. Although a person can always consider sponging his complete body, she says that paying extra attention to the spots particularly generating heat at the greatest level such as groin areas and armpits is important. Using a sponge, start wiping a particular section of the body at a time while keeping the rest part of the body completely covered. The heat from the body will evaporate any moisture and cool down the skin of a person, thereby bidding adieu to fever. 

Take An OTC Pain Reliever

If a person seems to be uncomfortable, he can consider taking an over-the-counter pain reliever. For an adult, ibuprofen, aspirin, or acetaminophen can be taken with due respect to the package directions. The benefit of ibuprofen and acetaminophen over aspirin is that a smaller number of people tend to experience any side effects of them. 

So, which one should a person take? All seem to be effective, but some of them tend to work better for specific ailments. For instance, ibuprofen and aspirin are NSAIDs as a result of which they can effectively reduce inflammation and muscle pain. Acetaminophen is highly recommended to be used by a person who is allergic to aspirin or is suffering from gastrointestinal sensitivity. 

It fails to be as effective as NSAIDs for muscle pain and inflammation, but it is a comparatively safer drug to be used with minimal side effects, as long as it is taken considering the dosage recommended to a person. 

Dressing the Part 

As per the views of Pane, a person must use his common sense as far as blankets and proper clothing is concerned. If he is very hot, he can consider taking off extra clothes and covers so that the heat from his body can easily dissipate into the air. But if he is cold, he should bundle up until he starts feeling comfortable. 

Time All The Time While Eating

A person should refrain from fretting over whether he should starve a fever or feed one, instead, he should just drown it. As per Maleskey, many people do not wish to eat while they are running a fever, so consuming fluids becomes an important thing. With the return of appetite, a person can start eating whatever appeals to him. Some of the items that can go down easily as a part of the recuperation for a person are chicken soup, scrambles eggs, vanilla pudding, and toast. 

Get Adequate Rest

A person might have probably heard this previously- always try kicking back and relaxing while running a fever. As explained by Dr. Mao, a fever is generally associated with an increase in the metabolism of body, this essentially means that the body would go on overdrive and would require more fluids and oxygen. Being active also helps a person increase the metabolic demands of his body. So being highly active while suffering from a fever can put additional strain on the body while it is under stress. Basically, the key here is to lie in bed and take it easy on the body to do what it needs to do. 

Natural Remedies To Fight Off Fever

Is your forehead feeling warm? Does this mean you are very ill? Do not be afraid of a low fever running in your body. As provided above, feeling feverish can prove to be a good sign that the immune system of a person is working effectively. Instead of running to the medicine cabinet, a person can always try natural remedies to gently soothe his fever. This way his immune system can easily perform the job it is supposed to do. 

Some of such remedies include the consumption of ginger and echinacea, coupled with drinking a lot of water and sleeping a lot to provide rest to the body. 

How To Tell If A Person Is Running A Fever?

To find out if a person is running a fever, he is required to take his temperature with the help of a thermometer. It is important to wait for about 15 minutes after drinking or eating anything, taking a hot bath, or smoking prior to taking an oral reading as this might alter the temperature of the mouth, causing inaccurate readings. Proceed with the following steps: 

  • Before a person uses the thermometer, he should hold it by the top and shake it nicely with a snap of his wrist until the colored dye inside the thermometer points to a temperature to be below 96°F. If a person, said Dr. Rosenberg, is concerned about dropping and breaking his thermometer, he must practice it over a bed. 
  • Place the glass or digital thermometer under the tongue in one of the pockets that are located on both sides of the mouth, and not right up front. These pockets are considered to be closer to the blood vessels reflecting the core temperature of the body. 
  • A person should hold the thermometer in place not with his teeth, but with his lips. Consider breathing through the nose than the mouth so that the room temperature does not end up affecting the reading. 
  • Leave the thermometer in the same place for about 3-7 minutes. After using it, wash it thoroughly with soapy, cool water, or wipe it down with the help of rubbing alcohol. Always remember to refrain from using hot water or storing the thermometer anywhere near heat. 

What Causes Fever?

When a fever occurs, the body of a person is typically considered to be in a fight with an infection. This can include respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, or bone infections. But according to several sources, a fever can be a result of any infection.

Besides an infection, a fever can also be caused by an autoimmune disease such as vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels), ulcerative colitis (inflammation of the digestive tract), or arthritis (inflammation of the joints) as per various studies. Several medications such as seizure medications, antibiotics, or antihistamines can also end up causing fever. Fever is oftentimes considered as one of the initial symptoms of cancer, especially lymphoma and leukemia.

How Long Does Fever Generally Last?

As a person might have probably guesses, the answer to this question is “it depends.” As per Dr. Mayo, the duration for which a fever might last tends to differ from a person to person depending on the treatment and causes of the fever. She further adds that most of the fevers generally tend to get resolved within a duration of three days.

As per Dr. Goldberg, various illnesses have various fever patterns. This means that a fever might come on during particular times for coming and going. But if a person has been suffering from a fever that fails to quit, it is a better idea to at least visit a doctor and check in with him once.

When Should A Person See A Doctor About His Fever?

A temperature of the body that is 102°F or higher might be serious, particularly if a person is feeling sick along with any other symptoms. An adult with chronic illness such as respiratory or heart disease might not be able to easily tolerate high and prolonged fever.

He should consider visiting a doctor if he ends up experiencing one or more of the symptoms mentioned hereafter as per the centers for disease control and prevention and several experts.

  • Headache with a stiff neck
  • Pain with deep breaths or difficulty in breathing
  • Skin rash
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Temperature that is more than 101°F lasting for more than 2 days or failing to respond completely or partly to any treatment
  • Severe vomiting or coughing
  • Facial pain
  • Unexplained bleeding or bruising
  • Green or yellow discharge from the nose
  • Under any condition, a temperature higher than 103°F

When Should A Person Consult A Healthcare Provider?


For an infant who is 12 weeks or younger in age, it is generally advised that the caregiver contacts a healthcare provider any time the fever of the baby turns over to be 100°F or more. As per Dr. Ferrer, a child under the age of 12 months, especially an infant who is 6 months or younger, is extremely vulnerable when he is suffering from a fever as he can become hydrated real quick.


Several studies also advice a person to call a healthcare provider for a fever that raises repeatedly to a temperature above 104 degrees in a child, irrespective of his age.

He should consult a healthcare provider if his child is running a fever coupled with some of the following symptoms:

  • Fussiness
  • Severe headache
  • Ear pain
  • Diarrhea or repeated vomiting
  • Unusual drowsiness
  •  Stiff neck
  • Sore throat
  • Unexplained rash

A child might appear very ill overall. A fever that tends to stay for more than 24 hours in a child who is younger than 2 years must undoubtedly contact a healthcare provider.


An adult should consider contacting a healthcare provider when his fever stays at or tends to rise above 103 degrees. If the fever in a person continues to climb without showing any sign of reduction it is important that he seeks medical assistance. As per several articles, an adult should seek medical care in case of the following:

  • Fever coming and going for more or about a week
  • A new bruise or rash
  • A weakened immune system
  • A serious medical illness
  • Recent visit to another country
  • Fever lasting for more than 48-72 hours

Because several things can end up causing a fever, certain medications, illness, autoimmune diseases, hear, cancel, people should note down the symptoms that accompany their fever, as per Dr. Ferrer, to avail an accurate diagnosis.

Other Guidelines

If a person is having a compromised immune system, he should consider seeking the care of a doctor. A compromised immune system is very common in people suffering from autoimmune disease, HIV, or cancer. Fever is generally considered a sign of the presence of an infection. At times, such infections tend to move fast or are difficult to treat. So, if a person has a compromised immune system, getting medical support immediately for treating fever is extremely important.

When Should A Person Seek Emergency Care?

When the fever of a person gets accompanied by coughing up blood or a shortness of breath, he should immediately consider heading directly to an emergency room as per Dr. Ferrer. Shortness of breath is generally an early symptom of a respiratory failure and must always be taken seriously according to her. As per several sources, additional symptoms warranting a trip to the emergency room include headache, inability to walk, stiff neck, and confusion.

Other symptoms accompanied with fever in a child warranting to seeking professional emergency care are:

  • Crying without being calmed or consoled
  • Blue nails, lips, or tongue
  • Refusal to move legs or arms

Overall, a fever signifies that the body is fighting against any illness or infection. If a person is suffering from any mild symptoms, he should drink plenty of fluids and take rest. It is important to monitor every symptom and gain cognizance about the time to seek advice for a healthcare professional.

Side Effects And Risks Associated With Fever

A fever reducer can have several side effects.


A person might be allergic to the use of acetaminophen. Several symptoms can include:

  • Rash
  • Reddening skin
  • Blisters

A person must consider consulting a healthcare professional before the consumption of acetaminophen in case of:

  • Breastfeeding or pregnancy
  • Taking warfarin (a medication for thinning blood)
  • Liver diseases


It can cause several allergic reactions in several people. The symptoms associated with it includes:

  • Asthma
  • Blisters
  • Hives
  • Rash
  • Facial swelling

The use of ibuprofen and other NSAIDs can increase the chances of a heart failure, stroke, and a heart attack if a person consumes more than he is recommended.

A person must consider consulting a healthcare professional before the consumption of ibuprofen in case of:

  • Aspirin consumption
  • Last 3 months of pregnancy
  • Suffering from kidney disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, or cirrhosis  
  • Taking warfarin (a blood-thinning medication)


Aspirin can also end up causing allergic reactions to many people. The symptoms associated with its use includes:

  • Facial swelling
  • Hives
  • Asthma

A person must consider consulting a healthcare professional before the consumption of aspirin case of:

  • Taking medication for gout, arthritis, or diabetes
  • Last 3 months of pregnancy
  • Suffering from heart disease, asthma, high blood pressure, or kidney disease

What Can A Person Do Now?

Running a fever is generally nothing that a person should worry about. It is important that he understands the guidelines laid down for the treatment of fever, especially in the case of old adults, young children, and the people having a compromised immune system. If a person or someone he is caring for is running a fever, he should:

Check The Age Guidelines

Visiting a doctor or treating fever at home, what is safer?

Stay Hydrated

Water or added electrolytes can be beneficial for everyone.

Keep A Track Of The Time

Regardless of the age, if a person fails to let up in two days or more, he should seek immediate medical attention. If a person is ever not sure of how he must handle his fever, he should consider calling his doctor. A doctor can work with him to further determine a perfect course of action.


In various cases, people tend to develop a fever as a result of any infection and do not, therefore, require any special treatment from a medical professional. Self-care at the comfort of home with plenty of rest, liquids, and OTC fever reducers can help a person feel highly comfortable while his body fights an illness.

If a fever tends to last for more than a few days or the development of other symptoms take place, it is highly advisable to visit a doctor. It is important for a person to follow product instructions while using a fever reducer.

A high fever can prove to be serious, but an occasional low fever is just the way of the body to show that it is healing. All OTC medicines have side effects and risks. Medicines that reduce fever suppress the natural healing process of the body. So instead of turning to a pill bottle, a person can always consider using alternative natural remedies.



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