Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

For a low-grade fever, your doctor may not recommend treatment to lower your body temperature. Doing so may prolong the illness or mask symptoms and make it harder to determine the cause.

Over-the-counter medications

In the case of a high fever, your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter medication, such as:

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others). Use these medications according to the label instructions or as recommended by your doctor. Be careful to avoid taking too much. High doses or long-term use of acetaminophen may cause liver or kidney damage, and acute overdoses can be fatal. If your child's fever remains high after a dose, don't give more medication; call your doctor instead. For temperatures below 102 F (38.9 C), don't use fever-lowering drugs unless advised by your doctor.
  • Aspirin, for adults only. Don't give aspirin to children, because it may trigger a rare, but potentially fatal, disorder known as Reye's syndrome.

Prescription medications

Depending on the cause of your fever, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic, especially if he or she suspects a bacterial infection, such as pneumonia or strep throat.

Antibiotics don't treat viral infections, but there are a few antiviral drugs used to treat certain viral infections. However, the best treatment for most minor illnesses caused by viruses is often rest and plenty of fluids.

Treatment of infants

For infants, especially those younger than 28 days, your baby might need to be admitted to the hospital for testing and treatment. In babies this young, a fever could indicate a serious infection that requires intravenous (IV) medications and round-the-clock monitoring.

May. 29, 2014

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