How to Treat a Fever at Home
We all know what a fever is like—that achey, fatigued, hot-and-cold feeling that can render you useless for several hours or days at a time. Having a fever isn’t necessarily bad (after all, it’s a sign that your immune system is working), but it sure is unpleasant to go through. Thankfully, fevers can sometimes be treated at home, meaning you don’t necessarily have to change out of your pajamas and travel to a doctor’s office to find relief from your symptoms.
First things first, let’s review what a fever is. A fever occurs when your body temperature increases above its normal range of 98 to 100 degrees fahrenheit. This heightened temperature is the immune system’s way of fighting off an illness, most often a viral or bacterial infection. A fever may also be caused by:
- Inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis
- Heat exhaustion
- Certain medications and immunizations
- Autoimmune conditions like lupus
- Hyperthyroidism and other hormone disorders
In this article, we’ll be reviewing how to address fevers that result from common viral and bacterial infections, such as influenza (flu), the common cold, and gastroenteritis (stomach bugs).
Fever & COVID-19
It’s worth mentioning that fever is a common symptom of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. If you have a fever—along with symptoms like shortness of breath, cough, headache, and digestive discomfort—stay at home and contact your medical provider about testing or treatment.
At-Home Fever-Reducing Tips
Now that you have a better understanding of what can trigger a fever, you may have realized that treatment will vary according to its underlying cause. For example, a fever caused by a bacterial infection will likely require antibiotics. On the other hand, many viral infections must run their course—meaning you should rest as your body works to fight off the illness. Generally speaking, though, here are a few ways you can help lower your fever at home:
Take Fever-Reducing Medication
Taking over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, naproxen, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen according to package directions can help reduce a fever. Children and teens should never take aspirin, however, as it increases the risk of a potentially deadly condition called Reye’s syndrome.
Drink Plenty of Fluids
Staying hydrated is key if you have a fever, as your body is working overtime to try to cool off. Make sure to drink plenty of water. Other fluids, such as broths, soups, and electrolyte beverages, can also help you hydrate.
This tip is a no-brainer, but the importance of rest while fighting a fever can’t be overstated. Try to get at least eight hours of sleep at night and relax as much as possible during the day. Your exercise routine and household tasks can wait until you’re feeling better.
Keep Yourself Cool
Take steps to cool off and lower your temperature. You can have a relaxing soak in a lukewarm (not cold) bath, wear light and comfortable clothing, turn the fan on, or enjoy a popsicle or two. If you get too cold and start to shiver, stop what you’re doing and try to warm up—being too cold may actually worsen your fever.
When to Seek Medical Care for a Fever
It’s important to know when to seek medical care for a fever. If you are an adult, you should promptly call a doctor if your fever is 103 degrees or higher or if it persists for more than two days. Children between the ages of 2 and 17 should see a doctor if their fever does not respond to over-the-counter fever reducers. For children younger than two, it’s always a good idea to immediately consult a medical professional, especially if the fever lasts longer than one day or the child is younger than three months.
It’s also best to speak with a doctor if your fever is accompanied by a rash, sensitivity to light, or vomiting. People who have pre-existing health concerns such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, or kidney disease should be particularly mindful of worsening symptoms and quickly seek medical care if they occur.
Should You Call 911?
A fever can sometimes be a sign that an individual needs emergency care. If you or someone around you has a fever that is higher than 105 degrees, or if it is accompanied by a stiff neck, seizures, or confusion, call 911 immediately.
In-Home Fever Treatment From DispatchHealth
DispatchHealth offers a safe and convenient way to receive professional fever treatment in non-life-threatening scenarios. Our urgent care service provides on-demand, in-home medical care to patients of all ages who don’t want to contend with germ-filled medical centers or long appointment wait times. Simply request care online, on our app, or over the phone, and a qualified medical team will be at your doorstep in a matter of hours. We can provide many of the same services as an emergency room and are equipped with the resources and expertise necessary to assist patients with complex health needs.
Contact DispatchHealth today to request in-home medical care or learn more about our approach to fever treatment. We’ll also be happy to tell you how we’re keeping our patients and team members safe during the COVID-19 crisis.
DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.
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