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Fever in Adults
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
A fever is an increase in your body temperature. Normal body temperature is 98.6°F (37°C). Fever is generally defined as greater than 100.4°F (38°C). Common causes include an infection, injury, or disease such as arthritis.
Return to the emergency department if:
- Your fever does not go away or gets worse even after treatment.
- You have a stiff neck and a bad headache.
- You are confused. You may not be able to think clearly or remember things like you normally do.
- Your heart beats faster than usual even after treatment.
- You have shortness of breath or chest pain when you breathe.
- You urinate small amounts or not at all.
- Your skin, lips, or nails turn blue.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have abdominal pain or you feel bloated.
- You have nausea or are vomiting.
- You have pain or burning when you urinate, or you have pain in your back.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
You may need any of the following:
- NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 months of age without direction from your child's healthcare provider.
- Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Read the labels of all other medicines you are using to see if they also contain acetaminophen, or ask your doctor or pharmacist. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly. Do not use more than 4 grams (4,000 milligrams) total of acetaminophen in one day.
- Antibiotics may be given if you have an infection caused by bacteria.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him of her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
- Drink more liquids as directed. A fever makes you sweat. This can increase your risk for dehydration. Liquids can help prevent dehydration.
- Drink at least 6 to 8 eight-ounce cups of clear liquids each day. Drink water, juice, or broth. Do not drink sports drinks. They may contain caffeine.
- Ask your healthcare provider if you should drink an oral rehydration solution (ORS). An ORS has the right amounts of water, salts, and sugar you need to replace body fluids.
- Dress in lightweight clothes. Shivers may be a sign that your fever is rising. Do not put extra blankets or clothes on. This may cause your fever to rise even higher. Dress in light, comfortable clothing. Use a lightweight blanket or sheet when you sleep. Change your clothes, blanket, or sheets if they get wet.
- Cool yourself safely. Take a bath in cool or lukewarm water. Use an ice pack wrapped in a small towel or wet a washcloth with cool water. Place the ice pack or wet washcloth on your forehead or the back of your neck.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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