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Fever In Adults


A fever is an increase in body temperature above 100.4°F (38°C). A fever may be a sign of a serious condition that needs to be treated.


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 normal even after treatment.
  • You have shortness of breath or chest pain when you breathe.
  • You urinate very 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.


  • Ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help decrease your fever. They are available without a doctor's order. Ask your healthcare provider how much to take and when to take it. Follow directions. These medicines can cause stomach bleeding if not taken correctly. Ibuprofen can cause kidney damage. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage.
  • 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.

Manage your fever:

  • 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.
  • Drink more liquids. Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. You may also need to drink an oral rehydration solution (ORS). An ORS has the right amounts of water, salts, and sugar you need to replace body fluids.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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.