Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

First Aid & Emergencies

Font Size

Fever in Adults Treatments

Call 911 if the person is:

  • Unresponsive
  • Wheezing or has difficulty breathing
  • Appearing blue in the lips
  • Having convulsions or seizures
  • Speaking in a confused or altered way

1. Take Temperature

  • Temperature can be taken orally, rectally, or under the armpit.
  • A person is considered feverish if oral temperature is above 100º F (37.8 C) or rectal temperature is above 100.7º F (38.2 C). Temperatures measured under the armpit are not considered as accurate and can be as much as 1º F lower than an oral measurement.
  • A temperature below 100.4º (38 C) is considered a low-grade or mild fever. It means that the body is responding to an infection.

2. Treat Fever, if Necessary

No treatment is necessary for a mild fever unless the person is uncomfortable. If the fever is 102º or higher:

  • Give an over-the-counter medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) as directed on the label. Warning: Do NOT give aspirin to anyone age 18 or younger unless directed to do so by a doctor.
  • Bathing or sponging in lukewarm water may bring the temperature down. Do not use cold water or alcohol.
  • Have the person wear light clothing and use a light cover or sheet -- overdressing can make body temperature go up. If the person gets chills, use an extra blanket until they go away.

3. Give Liquids

  • Have the person drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.

4. When to Contact a Doctor

Seek medical help immediately if the person has:

  • A history of serious illness such as AIDS, heart disease, cancer, or diabetes, or if the person is taking immunosuppressant drugs
  • A high fever that doesn't respond to fever-reducing medicine
  • Been exposed to extremely hot weather and feels hot but is not sweating
  • A stiff neck, is confused, or has trouble staying awake
  • Severe pain in the lower abdomen
  • Severe stomach pain, vomits repeatedly, or has severe diarrhea
  • Skin rashes, blisters, or a red streak on an arm or leg
  • A severe sore throat, severe swelling of the throat, or a persistent earache
  • Pain with urination, back pain, or shaking chills.
  • A severe cough, coughs up blood, or has trouble breathing

5. Follow Up

Contact a doctor if the high body temperature lasts for more than three days or gets worse.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on October 25, 2013

First Aid A-Z

  • There are no topics that begin with 'O'
  • There are no topics that begin with 'Q'
  • There are no topics that begin with 'U'
  • There are no topics that begin with 'X'
  • There are no topics that begin with 'Y'
  • There are no topics that begin with 'Z'

Today on WebMD

Antibiotic on hand
3d scan of fractured skull
Father putting ointment on boy's face
Person taking food from oven

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

sniffling child
wound care true or false
caring for wounds
Harvest mite

WebMD the app

Get first aid information. Whenever. Wherever... with your iPhone, iPad or Android.

Find Out More