The Catholic University of America

I have a fever.

Treating a Fever

Fever is defined as a body temperature above normal and typically indicates that there may be some abnormal process occurring, such as a viral or bacterial infection. It is a symptom, rather than the illness itself.  

What does it mean by high or low-grade?

How high a fever is does not necessarily indicate the severity of the illness causing the fever.

  • Temperature between 98.8-100.8 is a low-grade fever
  • Temperature between 101-102 is considered a mild fever
  • Temperature between 102-103 is considered moderate and above 103 is high 

Signs of a fever

  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Nausea (and sometimes vomiting)
  • Feeling very hot and then cold with chills and shivering 

Taking a temperature

Even if you are convinced by the way you feel that you have a fever, the only way to know for sure is to use a thermometer. Digital thermometers are very easy to use . You cannot rely on the "hands-on" technique"! 

How to Treat a Fever

Do not use Aspirin!

  • Take Tylenol, 2 tablets every 4-6 hours for fever, do not take more than 8 extra-strength Tylenol (500mg) tablets in one day.
  • Take Ibuprofen (advil, motrin), 2-3 tablets every 4-6 hours. Do not use Ibuprofen if you have a history of aspirin allergy or a stomach ulcer.
  • You can use both ibuprofen and Tylenol (acetaminophen) for fever control. You can alternate them, so that you can take one or the other every 2-3 hours if your fever is still up. For instance, if you take 2 tylenol at 10am and still have a fever at noon, you can take Ibuprofen.
  • Dress lightly and use a lukewarm bath or washcloths to help cool the body temperature. 

When to Call the Doctor

Call your health care provider for a fever that does not come down despite treatment, that lasts more than 3 days, that spikes rapidly or if there is anything that you are uncomfortable with.