Get rest to treat fever and chills and monitor your temperature

It’s something that many moms learn very early on – a fever can be a sign that something is wrong. The increase in body temperature is caused by the body fighting to return to a normal state. Fevers are often accompanied by other symptoms such as headaches, muscle pain, chills, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. These symptoms can help narrow the cause of the condition, and determine which treatment is necessary.

While an infection or virus is the most common cause of fever, other causes can include overexposure to the sun, an allergic reaction and an adverse reaction to an immunization. But that isn’t true in every case, which is why it’s important to know how to treat a fever.


Cartoon with check mark

  • monitor the fever
  • stay hydrated
  • take a fever reducer
  • watch for warning signs
  • seek medical care

Cartoon with x mark

  • call the doctor immediately
  • self-prescribe
  • wait to seek help
  • starve a fever
  • wrap up in blankets

Bob Hassett, M.D.‘s recommendation to ExpertBeacon readers: Do

Do monitor the fever

Body temperatures ebb and flow naturally, so a small increase may not indicate a serious condition. Take your temperature regularly to determine if your condition is worsening. A slight fever is a natural indication that your body is fighting off an infection or reacting to abnormal circumstances. If you treat the fever too quickly with medication, your body may not have sufficient time to rid itself of the underlying problem.

Do stay hydrated

Your body needs plenty of fluids to help it aggressively fight off the illness or virus causing the fever. If you’re experiencing nausea or vomiting, it’s especially important to replace those lost fluids and electrolytes, which can also help decrease the severity and duration of the fever.

Do take a fever reducer

If your fever persists or continues to increase, take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help reduce it. This will also help to reduce the aches, pains and other uncomfortable symptoms associated with a fever. Be sure to read the label carefully for proper dosage, and check for interaction with other medications you may be taking.

Do watch for warning signs

If the fever continues for more than three days, or continues to rapidly increase, it could be a sign of a life-threatening condition. Any adult with a persistent fever that is over 104 degrees should been seen by a doctor.

Do seek medical care

Call your doctor immediately if an adult has any of these signs or symptoms with a fever: severe headache, stiff neck, shortness of breath, sore throat, unusual skin rash, sensitivity to bright light, mental confusion, irritability, or abdominal pain.

Bob Hassett, M.D.‘s professional advice to ExpertBeacon readers: Don't

Do not call the doctor immediately

For most adults, rest, fluids, and some aspirin will help to reduce or eliminate a fever. This type of treatment does not require a visit from a doctor, and will likely be the same advice you receive from a physician. If symptoms persist for more than three days or worsen rapidly, seek medical attention.

Do not self-prescribe

Fevers are often accompanied by other symptoms like a headache, nausea, or congestion. If you take aspirin or acetaminophen, be sure there are no risk of drug interactions or complication with medication you may already be taking. Some medicines already contain a fever reducer – be sure not to overdose by taking additional doses.

Do not wait to seek help

A fever has many possible causes, but there are certain situations when medical care is necessary. This includes any fever over 104 F, any fever that lasts longer than five days, associated with blood loss or severe head trauma, or if a person has a serious medical illness such as cancer or HIV.

Do not starve a fever

This limerick may be well known, but it’s not sound advice. You need food and plenty of fluids to provide your body energy to help fight off infections and get healthy. You may want to eat simple meals that are easy on your digestive system, but it’s not recommended to skip meals altogether.

Do not wrap up in blankets

Chills and aches may accompany a fever, so curling up in a blanket or comfortable may seem natural, but it won’t bring down the fever. A cool bath or light blankets help to cool a person's skin and reduce their overall body temperature. Consuming cold water or sports drinks can also help to cool and rehydrate.


At some point, everyone will experience the wave of chills and exhaustion that accompanies a fever as part of a common cold or mild infection. With a cautious eye, routine monitoring, rest, fluids, and some pain reliever – its duration should be short-lived. But be ever watchful for more serious signs and seek medical help if the situation worsens.

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