Ask The Expert
November 04, 2011
With extreme elevations in body temperature (as with heat stroke), itís often necessary to cool the outside of the body. And itís considered an important part of emergency care.
But for the vast majority of fevers, youíre right: cold baths or cold packs arenít 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. Itís 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:
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 childís doctor.
A common mistake: Assuming you have a fever based on ďfeeling feverishĒ 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.