Adults have a fever when their body temperature increases to 100.4°F (38°C) or beyond. It is a natural immune response normally lasting one to three days, but the symptoms can be distressing. If a fever lasts for more than 3 days, causes a temperature of over 103°F (39.4°C), or is accompanied by worsening, new, or unexplained symptoms, then a medical assessment is essential. Fever present after recent foreign travel should also be investigated by a doctor.
Adults with certain health conditions, such as the risk of immune deficiencies, recent transplants, and HIV-positive status, should always seek medical advice when enduring a fever. For people of average health, at-home practices can ease the discomfort associated with a fever.
Fever can make some people feel cold and shivery, but wrapping up can make things worse. It is better to choose comfortable and loose clothing, changing it regularly if it becomes damp with perspiration. Wearing too little to cool down is also unwise at times when a fever creates a feeling of being too hot. This can prompt the body to shiver to warm up, which just heats it further.
Fluids are always a friend, especially when fighting a fever. A rise in body temperature means that the body sweats more to cool down and this uses precious water, which can result in dehydration. An adult with a fever should drink plenty of water and should be ideally passing pale yellow urine at least 6 times per day.
Over-the-counter medicines can counter the effects of fever by reducing the body's core temperature and tackling muscular pain. Most households have a supply of acetaminophen and ibuprofen for everyday family healthcare; these are beneficial when taken according to instructions. If you are taking different types of medication, be sure to pay attention to the total amount of the drug you are investing so you don't take too much.
Alcohol dehydrates the body and so should be avoided when a person has a fever and is sweating out more fluids than usual. Sugary drinks and those containing caffeine — soda, coffee, and black teas — should also be avoided as they can have a similar effect. Stick to water or sports drinks to replenish lost electrolytes.
Keep rooms cool but not cold. Warm rooms with little ventilation can make fever symptoms feel much worse. Careful use of air conditioning can help to regulate the airspace, keeping the feverish person more comfortable, especially in warmer climates. If the fever is accompanied by a sore throat, ensure that the immediate environment is sufficiently humid by running a humidifier.
A simple treatment that is so often overlooked or dismissed is rest. While sleeping, the body can fight infection by replenishing cells, facilitating a recharge of the immune system. A person with a fever should be striving for eight hours of sleep per 24 hours; if discomfort is keeping them up at night, then napping during the day will also facilitate a quicker recuperation. Remember to keep the room and the bedding light — being cocooned in warm and heavy blankets should be avoided even when feeling shivery.
Feverish adults might be tempted to jump into either a hot or a very cool bath, depending on their current symptoms. A much better treatment is to take a lukewarm bath, maintaining this temperature by adding warm water as the bath cools. There is little scientific agreement on what defines "lukewarm" but a water temperature between 98 and 110°F should be most helpful in relieving fever symptoms.
The health food market offers commercial herbal products that claim to fight fevers. Adults using these products should of course seek advice from trusted, qualified sources. However, there are a number of foods with alleged healing properties that have been used for centuries to alleviate fever symptoms. These include basil, garlic, ginger, and apple cider vinegar. If the individual has no other health concerns, trying concoctions with these ingredients should not do harm and may help curb symptoms when combined with other treatments.
Some foods are highly effective at helping the body recover from sickness because they have high amounts of vitamins, minerals, calories, and protein and are easy to ingest when appetites are low. Chicken soup is the classic go-to for colds and vegetable broth with pulses is a great alternative for vegetarians. Coconut water is packed full of glucose and electrolytes. Yogurt can ease a sore throat while providing essential nutrients.
Having a fever is an unpleasant experience, but it is worth remembering that most fevers are fairly harmless and that they are a fundamental mechanism springing into action when the body needs to fend off infection. Provided the person has no underlying health conditions or complications, the fever should successfully achieve its mission to return the body to a healthy state within three days. As mentioned, please see a doctor if your symptoms persist longer than this, or if other worrying symptoms develop.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.