Managing Fever in Adults

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If an adult is suffering from a fever, follow these treatment steps:

Fever in adults

Fever in adults – First Aid

1. Take the person’s temperature

  • You can take the temperature, orally, under the armpit or rectally.
  • An oral temperature of above 100 F or 37.8 C and a rectal temperature of above 100.7 F or 38.2 C indicate a fever in adults. Temperatures taken under the armpit may be 1 F lower compared to an oral temperature; however, it is important to note that this temperature is not as accurate as temperatures taken orally or rectally.
  • A low-grade fever i.e. a temperature below 100.4 F or 38 C indicates that the body is currently experiencing an infection.

2. Treat the fever

Mild fevers do not require any treatment, unless the fever is causing any discomfort or is interrupting daily work. Follow these steps if the fever is 102 F or higher:

  • To treat the fever, you may give the person over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Note that you must NOT give aspirin to young children or teenagers less than 18 years of age as it may lead to a rare, but lethal disease called the Reye’s syndrome.
  • Avoid bathing in cold water or using alcohol to bring down the temperature. Sponging or soaking in lukewarm water usually lowers the body temperature.
  • Do not overdress or wrap the person in a blanket as this will cause a rise in body temperature. Make the person wear light clothing unless he feels any chills—cover him until they go away.

3. Give the person plenty of fluids

  • Drinking plenty of water, juices, soups and broths will prevent dehydration.

See a doctor if the follow problems result:

  • The person is suffering from fever and has a history of serious medical complications such as cancer, AIDS, heart disease, diabetes etc. Additionally, seek medical help if the person takes immunosuppressant drugs.
  • If fever does not respond to medication.
  • The person is feeling hot due to extremely hot weather, but not sweating.
  • The person is suffering from severe pain particularly in the lower abdomen along with the fever.
  • Fever is accompanied with stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and severe diarrhea.
  • Fever is accompanied with symptoms of other underlying causes such as confusion, drowsiness or stiff neck.
  • Signs of infections begin to appear such as discharge, pus, blisters, rashes, or red streaks on the limbs.
  • Problems such as persistent ear pain, severe swelling or sore throat take place.
  • The person experiences pain while urinating.
  • The person is experiencing frequent chills or back pain.
  • The person experiences severe coughs, breathing difficulties or is coughing up blood.
  • Call the doctor if the temperature rises despite taking fever medications.

Emergency situation

Call 911 immediately, if the casualty is exhibiting the following problems:

  • Breathing difficulties or wheezing
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Bluish discolouration of the lips and skin
  • Temperature above 105 F
  • Fever occurs along with headaches and stiff neck
  • Seizures
  • Delirium or confusion—uncoordinated speaking
  • Sudden rashes appear on the skin

To learn more about these other major emergencies enrol in first aid and CPR training with a credible workplace approved provider near you. You will learn to recognize and manage person’s in these and other situations.

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  • All cprlevelc.ca content is reviewed by a medical professional and / sourced to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

  • We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable websites, academic research institutions and medical articles.

  • If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please contact us through our contact us page.