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What Are Fever Reducers And How Do They Help?

How Do Fever Reducers Make A Difference?

Dr. Kara Wada Profile Photo

Written by Dr. Kara Wada on July 26, 2021

When you end up with a fever, this is one way that your body lets you know it is working to fight off some form of illness.

When a pathogen like a virus enters your system and gets into your mucus membranes, that virus finds its way into your bloodstream. In response, your immune system starts to release inflammatory chemicals that raise your body temperature as an attempt to make your body an uncomfortable environment for the virus, and this is what we call a fever.

Low grade fevers are a common symptom of viruses like those that cause ear infections, strep throat, and even the common cold. On the other hand, high fevers are characteristic of the flu, but may happen as the result of another form of illness as well. Fevers can also be a sign of a bacterial infection or other issues throughout the body.

When you are dealing with a low grade fever, it may not be necessary to take a fever reducer at all unless your fever is causing you discomfort. Letting a low fever run its course may actually help get rid of the pathogens in your body more quickly.

Alternatively, a fever that is causing you a lot of discomfort, or a fever that is particularly high, should generally be treated using a fever reducer. This is because having a fever can make you dehydrated very easily because you are sweating more, and it can also cause extra stress on your body, which isn’t used to operating at this higher temperature.

Now that the basics of a fever have been covered, what exactly are fever reducers and how do they work?

Fever Reducers: What You Need To Know

Fever reducers are medications that work to help lower your temperature when you are experiencing a fever, and analgesics are one category of drugs that work in this way. Drugs that work to reduce a fever are known as antipyretic drugs, and they are thought to work partially by promoting heat loss through your skin so that your temperature decreases.

There are two main active ingredients commonly used as fever reducers: acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Both of these drugs can be used to relieve pain as well as reduce a fever. Ibuprofen is also an anti-inflammatory drug often used for the purpose of reducing the discomfort associated with minor aches and pains, and it is sometimes also used as a fever reducer.

Acetaminophen is not an anti-inflammatory drug, but it is used as a pain reliever and fever reducer. Acetaminophen is often favored over ibuprofen for the purpose of reducing a fever due to the fact that it is safe for use in children who are under 6 months of age, while ibuprofen is not recommended for use in children this young. Acetaminophen is also thought to have fewer potential side effects or health risks.

When it comes to choosing a fever reducer for yourself or your child, the first thing you should do is read the Drug Facts Label. This is where you will find important information regarding proper usage, active and inactive ingredients, and any necessary warnings regarding the medication.

Reading the list of ingredients can help you make sure that you are not purchasing a product that contains an allergen, and the warnings section will let you know who should or should not be using the medicine. People with certain health conditions or people who are taking certain medications may be advised against using some over the counter medicines.

If anything remains unclear after reading the medicine label, it is important to consult your doctor for more information. Your doctor can help inform you about what dose may be best for your needs, how many times a day the medicine should be taken, and how long you should plan to use the medicine. Your doctor can also answer any questions you may have, and because they are familiar with your medical history they can also help you do a risk assessment of your individual situation.

What You Can Do Besides Taking A Fever Reducer

Once you have taken a fever reducer, there are also a few other things you can do that may help lower your temperature and ease any discomfort you are experiencing. Getting plenty of rest will help your body fight off the infection, and making sure to drink plenty of fluids will keep you hydrated and prevent dehydration from occurring as a result of your fever. You can also change into comfortable, lightweight clothing and place a cool, damp washcloth on your forehead.

If your fever does not respond to medication, lasts more than three days, or exceeds 103 degrees Fahrenheit, these are signs that you should consult your doctor for further guidance, and possibly seek medical attention at an urgent care facility.

Your doctor can help determine if something more serious is at play, and if so, they can get you started on the appropriate treatment plan. Additionally, even if your fever does respond to medication and no other concerning symptoms or signs are present, it is still recommended to call your doctor if anything is concerning you or leaving you feeling uncertain. There is no shame in playing it safe and getting your questions answered, especially when it comes to your health.

Treating Fevers in Children

If your little one comes down with a fever, you should help them drink plenty of fluids and get some rest. If your child is uncomfortable because of the fever, a fever reducer can help ease their symptoms, and you should call your doctor if your kiddo becomes unusually irritable, agitated, or lethargic.

You should also call your doctor if your child is in a lot of discomfort, or if their fever becomes high, does not go away in a few days, or does not respond to treatment.

Children-specific fever reducers exist for kids between the ages of 2 and 11 years, and they work to help reduce symptoms commonly associated with colds or the flu, such as minor aches and pains, headaches, and a sore throat. In other words, this medicine can help reduce your little one’s fever while also working to offer some relief from any other symptoms they may be experiencing.

If your child is less than 2 years old, you should consult your doctor before giving them medicine, and it is also important to consult your doctor before giving your child any kind of medicine, especially if you are not completely sure what is causing their symptoms in the first place. Your pediatrician will be able to determine what the cause of the problem is, and they will also advise you regarding how much of a medicine your child really needs.

The Bottom Line

Fever reducers can be immensely helpful when you or your little one end up with a fever, even if it is a low grade fever. When you spike a fever, it is generally a sign that your body is fighting off an illness or infection.

Fevers happen when a virus or other pathogen reaches your bloodstream, and your immune system releases inflammatory chemicals in response that work to raise your internal temperature as a means of making the environment uncomfortable so the virus has more trouble replicating.

Fever reducers commonly use either acetaminophen or ibuprofen as their active ingredient, and both of these drugs can both relieve pain and work to quell a fever. Acetaminophen, however, is sometimes favored because it is safe by use for younger children while ibuprofen is generally not recommended in these cases.

Whenever you are taking a fever reducer or any other form of medication, it is important to read the Drug Facts Label for information about proper usage, dosing, active and inactive ingredients, and any relevant warnings. If you have questions or doubts about your medicine, you should call your doctor for further guidance or to have your questions answered.



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