A fever is a body temperature that is higher than normal. It is not an illness. It is part of your body’s defense against infection. Most bacteria and viruses that cause infections do well at the body’s normal temperature (98.6 F). A slight fever can make it harder for them to survive. Fever also activates your body’s immune system.

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Infections cause most fevers. There can be many other causes, including

  • Medicines
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Cancers
  • Autoimmune diseases

Treatment depends on the cause of the fever. To lower a very high fever you can take over-the-counter medicines such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Adults can also take aspirin, but children with fevers should not take aspirin. It is also important to drink enough liquids to prevent dehydration.

There are several “emergency” techniques you can use to help lower an extremely high temperature. Most parents already know these techniques from their child-raising years.

  • Alternating Pain Relievers
  • Cold Sponge Bath
  • Ice Bath

While most pain relievers can be taken only every 4 to 8 hours, you can take different types of pain relievers and rotate the doses. Take acetaminophen. Two hours later you can take ibuprofen. Two hours later you can take naproxen. You can then repeat the medications every two hours starting with the acetaminophen.

The cold sponge bath is self-explanatory. Give the person with a high fever a sponge bath with the coldest water possible. It should help reduce the fever. If the fever persists or goes any higher, try the ice bath. The ice bath is sometimes considered the last resort to lower extremely high fevers. Place the person in an ice bath or the coldest water possible.


We also offer a free certificate of completion. To receive the certificate you must pass a 50-question test with a score of 70 or higher. Check our Basic First Aid Certificate of Completion page for more information.

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