With extreme elevations in body temperature (as with heat stroke), its often necessary to cool the outside of the body. And its considered an important part of emergency care.
But for the vast majority of fevers, youre right: cold baths or cold packs arent necessary. In fact, this can be uncomfortable or even dangerous since lowering the body temperature too much comes with its own risks. And cooling the skin may cause shivering that could lead to higher body temperature.
For most fevers, the most important steps are to determine and treat the cause and remain well hydrated.
Fever itself is not a disease. Its a sign of illness. Finding the cause of the illness is essential, as this will direct treatment. While infection is a leading cause of fever, there are many other causes, such as:
- Autoimmune disease (lupus and many others)
- Medication reactions
- Thyroid disease
- Blood clots in the legs or lungs
Drink plenty of fluids: Since fever causes fluid loss, staying well-hydrated will help you feel better. Cool liquids can help lower your temperature as well.
For comfort, you can take an over-the-counter medicine to reduce body temperature. Examples include acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen. Aspirin is okay for adults. But it is not recommended for children unless specifically prescribed by the childs doctor.
A common mistake: Assuming you have a fever based on feeling feverish or having chills. Check your temperature with a thermometer if you think you have a fever. And if you do have a persistent or unexplained fever, let your doctor know.