First Aid & Fever in Adults
1. Take Temperature
- Temperature can be taken orally, rectally, or under the armpit.
- A person is considered feverish if oral temperature is above 100º F (37.8 C) or rectal temperature is above 100.7º F (38.2 C). Temperatures measured under the armpit are not considered as accurate and can be as much as 1º F lower than an oral measurement.
- A temperature below 100.4º (38 C) is considered a low-grade or mild fever. It means that the body is responding to an infection.
2. Treat Fever, if Necessary
No treatment is necessary for a mild fever unless the person is uncomfortable. If the fever is 102º or higher:
- Give an over-the-counter medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) as directed on the label. Warning: Do NOT give aspirin to anyone age 18 or younger unless directed to do so by a doctor.
- Bathing or sponging in lukewarm water may bring the temperature down. Do not use cold water or alcohol.
- Have the person wear light clothing and use a light cover or sheet -- overdressing can make body temperature go up. If the person gets chills, use an extra blanket until they go away.
3. Give Liquids
- Have the person drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
4. When to Contact a Doctor
Seek medical help immediately if the person has:
- A history of serious illness such as AIDS, heart disease, cancer, or diabetes, or if the person is taking immunosuppressant drugs
- A high fever that doesn't respond to fever-reducing medicine
- Been exposed to extremely hot weather and feels hot but is not sweating
- A stiff neck, is confused, or has trouble staying awake
- Severe pain in the lower abdomen
- Severe stomach pain, vomits repeatedly, or has severe diarrhea
- Skin rashes, blisters, or a red streak on an arm or leg
- A severe sore throat, severe swelling of the throat, or a persistent earache
- Pain with urination, back pain, or shaking chills.
- A severe cough, coughs up blood, or has trouble breathing
5. Follow Up
Contact a doctor if the high body temperature lasts for more than three days or gets worse.