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Relieving the symptoms of fever

A fever can make you feel hot, cold, shivery, washed out and sometimes have aches and pains. 

As well as treating the underlying cause of any infection, you need treatment for your fever symptoms to make you more comfortable. Bringing your temperature down can make a big difference to how you feel.

Drugs to treat fever

You might take paracetamol. This is an anti pyretic and means it brings down temperatures. You usually take it regularly, every 4 to 6 hours, until you're no longer getting temperatures. Make sure you read the drug information leaflet so that you know what dose to take and when. 

You might take steroids, for example if your fever has been caused by a reaction to treatment.

Aspirin and ibuprofen can reduce your temperature, but you shouldn't take them without checking with your doctor. 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 they can affect the time it takes your blood to clot. 

Feeling more comfortable

Other things that can make you feel more comfortable include:

  • removing excess clothing and bed linen
  • having a lukewarm (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
  • rest as much as you can

Even if you have a high temperature, you might 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. But even though you feel cold, inside your body is very hot. You really won’t feel better until your temperature comes down.

Your nurse might try to help cool you down with a fan or removing blankets.

Last reviewed: 
05 Aug 2019
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    J Tobias and D Hochhauser 
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  • The information on this page is based on literature searches and specialist checking. We used many references and there are too many to list here. If you need additional references for this information please contact patientinformation@cancer.org.uk with details of the particular risk or cause you are interested in. 

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