10 Ways to Reduce Fever from a Cold or Flu

Do you or your loved one have a fever? The good news is you probably have nothing to worry about. Fevers are extremely common and often occur due to a virus like a cold or flu, though they’re more common in people who have the flu.1,2 They usually occur when the body is working to fight an infection in order to protect itself.3–5 As with other cold and flu symptoms, a fever is a sign that something out of the ordinary is going on in your body.

Fevers that are caused by cold viruses or flu viruses can last 3-4 days, and unfortunately, a fever—especially a high-grade fever (over 103°F)—can feel quite uncomfortable6. If you are suffering from a fever and want some relief, here are some tips for how to reduce a fever – at home or with medicine.

10 Things that Can Help to Lower a Fever

Home Remedies for Fever Symptoms

  1. Rest

Activity can raise your body temperature. You need to rest in order to recover and reduce a fever. For an adult whose fever is 102°F (38.9°C) or lower, the recommendation is simply to rest and drink lots of fluids. Medication isn’t always necessary. Getting enough sleep can also help to support the integrity of your immune system, so your body can fight fever-causing viruses like a cold or flu.8

Call a doctor if your fever is accompanied by a severe headache, stiff neck, shortness of breath or other unusual signs or symptoms.

  1. Hydration

Having a fever can cause fluid loss and dehydration. It’s important to drink plenty of fluids when you have a fever. Adequate fluid intake is often advised as part of a treatment plan for fever-inducing infections like the flu.7

  1. A cool environment

Keeping the room temperature cool and sleeping with only a sheet or light blanket can help keep you cooler. If your child has a fever, adjust the temperature in the house or bedroom to help keep them cool.9

  1. Light clothing

When you want to break a fever, it’s also a good idea to dress in light clothing, as lighter clothing can have a cooling effect.10 It’s been reported that very warm clothing may increase a child’s body temperature even in the case that they are not ill.11

  1. Tepid sponging

Placing a cool, damp washcloth on your forehead and the back of your neck can help your fever symptoms feel better. You might also want to give yourself a sponge bath with cool water, focusing on high-heat areas like your armpits and groin. Normally, this method, known as tepid sponging, is done for about 5 minutes. Like staying in a cool environment and wearing light clothing, this physical measure for reducing a fever may not be as effective as fever-reducing medications.12,13

Over-the-Counter Medicines that Reduce Fever

A fever is not a pleasant symptom to experience. The chills, shivering, and headaches can become uncomfortable enough that you want relief. Keep over-the-counter medicines on hand with active ingredients that can reduce fever. Acetaminophen, for example is an over-the-counter medication that is approved for use against fever, even in children.10

Acetaminophen is a commonly used drug for reducing fever that also relieves minor aches and pains.14 But you may find that when you have a cold or flu, there are more symptoms that you need relief from, like coughing or nasal congestion.

Many over-the-counter cold and flu medicines treat multiple symptoms, including fever. Make sure to identify what other symptoms you may be experiencing along with fever, if any, so you can get the relief you need. Keep reading for Vicks products that can help reduce fever, along with other common cold and flu symptoms.

  1. Dayquil SEVERE

Dayquil SEVERE is a non-drowsy cold and flu symptom relief medicine for your worst cold symptoms. Along with acetaminophen to reduce fever, it also relieves chest congestion with an expectorant (guaifenesin), nasal congestion with a nasal decongestant (phenylephrine), and cough with a cough suppressant (dextromethorphan).

  1. Nyquil SEVERE

Fever and other cold and flu symptoms like sneezing, and cough can make it harder to sleep and get the rest you need to fight off a virus. Like DayQuil, NyQuil SEVERE has acetaminophen to reduce fever. It also has an antihistamine to help with sneezing and runny nose symptoms, and dextromethorphan to suppress your cough so you can get a good night’s sleep.

  1. Sinex SEVERE All-in-One Sinus LiquiCaps™

Some colds come with uncomfortable sinus symptoms—like sinus congestion, pressure, headache, and pain. That’s where Sinex comes in. Sinex SEVERE All-in-One Sinus LiquiCaps™ relieves those symptoms from the common cold or flu so you can breathe freely fast.

  1. DayQuil Hot Remedy

You’ll likely spend time resting at home if you have a cold or flu. DayQuil Hot Remedy comes in a soothing hot drink form, with the powerful ingredients to relieve your cold and flu symptoms while you recover at home. Dissolve the contents of one packet into 8 oz. of hot water and stir briskly. Make sure to drink the entire medicated hot drink within 10-15 minutes. DayQuil Hot Remedy relieves nasal congestion, sore throat, body aches, fever, and cough from a cold or flu.

  1. NyQuil Hot Remedy

Like the daytime formula, NyQuil Hot Remedy is a medicated hot drink with relief in every sip. It reduces your fever with acetaminophen and relieves other common cold and flu symptoms like runny nose. Be sure to take it at night when you’re ready to go to sleep, it will relieve your cough so you can rest and fight off the cold or flu virus causing your fever.

When to see a doctor

It is important to recognize that not all fevers are the same. While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define a fever as a temperature at or above 100.4°F (38°C), low-grade fevers that involve lower temperatures and more mild symptoms are often much less of a concern than high-grade fevers.15

While fevers can be beneficial because they can help to kill off problematic invading viruses, high fevers can be damaging to our bodies, so monitoring the level of your fever when you have one is important.4

It is generally recommended that you see a doctor if you are experiencing any of the following:16

  • If your temperature reaches 104°F or higher.
  • If you have fever or cough symptoms that improve, then get worse.
  • If your fever is accompanied by a severe muscle pain, mental confusion, or any other out-of-the ordinary symptoms.

The fastest and most reliable way to determine if you have a fever and how significant that fever may be is to take your temperature with an easy-to-use at-home thermometer. Determining the severity of your fever can help you delineate what may be causing the fever and help you understand the best course of action to take to restore your health, and when to see your healthcare provider.17

Fevers can occur for a variety of reasons but are often the result of a virus like a cold or flu. There are several things you can try to reduce your fever and relieve any other common symptoms. One category of these options is home remedies, such as ones that help to physically cool your body and bring your temperature down based on your external environment. Another category is over-the-counter medicines that can work by combatting fever-causing mechanisms in your body. It may also be beneficial to combine physical interventions with drugs that can help to break your fever.

Regardless of how you choose to address your fever, monitoring your fever is important for obtaining information regarding the underlying cause and severity of your condition. In cases of high or persistent fevers, or fevers accompanied by severe symptoms, you should seek medical attention.

Hopefully, you’ll now be able to reduce your fever associated with your cold or flu. For your other cold or flu symptoms, take a look at some great cold remedies and flu treatments—and get well soon!

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