First Aid for Fever

Last updated Aug. 30, 2017

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Read This First

All cases of very-high Fever should be evaluated by a trained medical professional, as soon as possible! DO NOT wait! Failure to obtain evaluation as soon as possible may result in serious injury or death. Call 911 (or your local emergency number) immediately, if you are experiencing very high Fever.

What is Fever?

  • Fever is an increase of core body temperature, above the normal range (98.6 deg. F). It affects both children and adults and is usually a sign of an underlying illness
  • The condition may be accompanied by sweating, shivering, and fatigue. A treatment of Fever involves undertaking treatment of the cause of Fever

What are the Causes of Fever?

Most common causes of Fever include, but are not limited to:

  • Viral or bacterial infections
  • Heat exhaustion and dehydration
  • Certain inflammatory conditions
  • Certain medications used for anesthesia and for treating cancer
  • Certain vaccines
  • Cancer
  • Unknown causes; when it is called pyrexia (Fever of unknown origin)

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Fever?

The accompanying signs and symptoms of Fever include:

  • Increased core body temperature
  • Shivering (shakes)
  • Hot and cold sweats
  • Generalized body aches and joint pain/stiffness
  • Tiredness, feeling weak (lethargic)
  • Decreased appetite
  • Dehydration
  • High Fever may lead to seizures (febrile seizures), irritability, and confusion

The patient usually has other signs and symptoms, from the underlying illnesses too.

How is First Aid administered for Fever?

First Aid tips for Fever include:

How to measure temperature:

  • Orally
    • Put the bulb under the tongue
    • Keep it there for recommended amount of time by the manufacturer
    • Read the temperature after removing the thermometer
  • Rectally
    • Put some lubricant on the bulb
    • Gently insert the bulb into the rectum, as instructed
    • Hold the bulb as instructed by the manufacturer
    • Read the temperature after removing the thermometer
  • Under the arm
    • Put the thermometer under the arm
    • Keep your arm close to the chest
    • Keep it there for recommended amount of time by the manufacturer
    • Read the temperature after removing it from under the arm

For adults:

  • May consider taking fever reducing over-the-counter medication, such as Tylenol or Advil, as recommended by the doctor
  • Take plenty of fluids
  • Seek medical help if:
    • Temperature is more than 103 deg. F
    • Fever is present for more than 3 days

For children or infants:

  • DO NOT give aspirin
  • DO NOT give Advil to infants younger than 6 months of age
  • DO NOT use ‘rubbing alcohol’ to reduce Fever
  • Give them plenty of fluids
  • Give them a bath in lukewarm water, to reduce Fever
  • Seek medical help if:
    • Child is younger than 3 months and has temperature of 100.4 deg. F, or higher
    • Child is older than 3 months and has temperature of 102 deg. F, or higher
    • Fever persists more than 3 days

Who should administer First Aid for Fever?

First Aid can be administered by the individual (adult) with Fever, family members, and/or medical health professional.

What is the Prognosis of Fever?

The prognosis is dependent upon the timely identification and treatment of underlying cause of Fever.

How can Fever be Prevented?

A few helpful tips to prevent Fever:

  • Staying up-to-date with immunizations, as recommended by your physician
  • Frequent hand washing
  • Teach children, to thoroughly wash their hands regularly
  • Cover your nose and mouth, while sneezing and coughing
  • Wear appropriate protective clothes, when going into the woods and park; to prevent tick and other insect-borne illnesses
  • Appropriate wound care will avoid the wounds from getting infected

What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?

Immediately seek medical help if an adult or a child has Fever, with:

  • Persistent vomiting
  • Skin rash
  • Problem breathing
  • Persistent cough
  • Ear pain
  • Acute abdominal pain
  • Open wound with or without redness/drainage
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Dehydration
  • Fever for more than 3 days
  • Swelling of throat, difficulty swallowing
  • Pain while urinating
  • Dark urine (tea-colored)
  • Stiff neck
  • Irritability
  • Chronic medical problems, or other unexplained symptoms

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
1600 Clifton Rd. Atlanta, GA 30333, USA
Phone: (404) 639-3534
Toll-Free: 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636)
TTY: (888) 232-6348
Email: cdcinfo@cdc.gov
Website: http://www.cdc.gov

American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP)
11400 Tomahawk Creek Parkway Leawood, KS 66211-2672
Phone: (913) 906-6000
Toll-Free: (800) 274-2237
Fax: (913) 906-6095
Email: fp@aafp.org
Website: http://www.aafp.org

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/first-aid-fever/FA00063 (accessed on 10/17/2013)

http://kidshealth.org/parent/firstaid_safe/sheets/fever_sheet.html#cat20221 (accessed on 10/17/2013)

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Pizzo, P. A. (1993). Management of fever in patients with cancer and treatment-induced neutropenia. New England Journal of Medicine, 328(18), 1323-1332.

Atkins, E. (1960). Pathogenesis of fever. Physiological Reviews, 40, 580-646.

Azzimondi, G., Bassein, L., Nonino, F., Fiorani, L., Vignatelli, L., Re, G., & D’Alessandro, R. (1995). Fever in acute stroke worsens prognosis. Stroke, 26(11), 2040-2043.

Marik, P. E. (2000). Fever in the ICU. Chest Journal, 117(3), 855-869.

Diringer, M. N., & Neurocritical Care Fever Reduction Trial Group. (2004). Treatment of fever in the neurologic intensive care unit with a catheter-based heat exchange system. Critical care medicine, 32(2), 559-564.

Saper, C. B., & Breder, C. D. (1994). The neurologic basis of fever. New England journal of medicine, 330(26), 1880-1886.

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Oct. 17, 2013
Last updated: Aug. 30, 2017

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