Ask the Expert: Do I Need Medication for a Fever?


I’ve heard that the immune system naturally triggers fever to fight off bacteria and viruses. Is it necessary to take medication for fever? What types of fever medication are there? How do they work?


A fever develops when your body’s temperature rises, most commonly because of an infection. Fever is usually present with common disorders like flu. However, there is no evidence that states that fevers speed up recovery from common infections.

To reduce fever, you can take paracetamol (or acetaminophen), aspirin or ibuprofen. Here’s how each drug works:


Possesses analgesic (pain-relieving) and antipyretic (fever-reducing) effects. It is gentler on the stomach than aspirin. It can also be safely used in patients with allergies to aspirin.

Aspirin and Ibuprofen

Both of these relieve pain, inflammation and reduce fever. However, these drugs are harsh on the stomach and can cause gastric irritation, ulcers and bleeding. Take these medications after a meal or with milk.

Always see a doctor for fever over 38.8°Celcius, and if it lasts longer than 24 hours. Brain damage may occur in people who have sustained body temperatures of 41° Celcius or above.


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Contributed by Low Chui Yan, a pharmacist with over 18 years of experience. This Ask the Expert is supported by the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society, the national association of pharmacists in Malaysia,

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