Relieving the symptoms of fever | Cancer Research UK
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Relieving the symptoms of fever

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This page has information about relieving the symptoms of a fever. Having a fever can make you feel very unwell. You may feel hot, cold, shivery, washed out and sometimes have aches and pains. You may be worried about what is causing your fever. As well as treating the underlying cause of any infection, you need treatment for your fever symptoms. This can help you feel more comfortable. Bringing your temperature down can make a big difference to how you feel.

Your doctor may ask you to take paracetamol or an anti inflammatory drug, such as ibuprofen (Nurofen). These drugs are anti pyretics, meaning they bring down temperatures. You may need to take them regularly, every 4 to 6 hours, until you're no longer getting temperatures. Make sure you read the drug information leaflet so that you you know what dose to take and when. 

Sometimes steroids are used, for example if your fever has been caused by a reaction to treatment. Aspirin can reduce your temperature, but you shouldn't take aspirin without checking with your doctor. Aspirin can cause bleeding and you shouldn't have it if you have a low platelet count or any other risk of bleeding (for example a stomach ulcer). This is because aspirin can affect your blood clotting time.

Other things that can make you feel more comfortable include

  • Removing excess clothing and bed linen
  • Having a tepid bath or sponge down
  • Drinking lots of cold fluids or sucking ice chips
  • Opening the window or having a fan in the room
  • During periods of chills, change any wet bed linen and clothes to keep you warm and dry, and keep away from drafts
  • Resting as much as you can

Even though you may have a high temperature you may actually feel cold and begin to shiver. This is part of the first phase of having a fever. Your immediate reaction may be to huddle up under lots of blankets to feel warm. You are unlikely to appreciate it when a nurse comes and asks you to take off all those warm blankets and puts a fan on in front of you. But there is a reason to this madness! Even though you feel cold, inside your body is very hot. You really won’t feel better until your temperature comes down. Huddling under blankets will only put it up.

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Updated: 4 September 2012