A fever isn't a separate illness. Fever or a high temperature is usually a normal response to an infection as the body fights it off. Part of the brain called the hypothalamus may decide to regulate the body's temperature to a higher level.
Common causes of fever are:
Colds and flu
Gastroenteritis stomach bugs
Infections of the ear, lung, skin, throat, bladder or kidney
Fever usually makes a person feel uncomfortable, and steps may be taken to reduce the fever, by taking age-appropriate medicine, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, but never aspirin in under-16s.
Other home care treatments for fever:
Drink eight glasses of water or other clear fluid a day. Iced drinks or ice lollies may have a soothing effect.
Wear lightweight clothing and don't use blankets and duvets in bed to avoid getting too warm
Make sure the temperature in the room is comfortable and let fresh air in
Rest and avoid heavy activity
The NHS does not recommend use of wet sponges to treat a high temperature or fever.
Depending on age, physical condition and the underlying cause of the fever, a person may or may not need to seek medical advice.
Many experts believe that fever is a natural bodily defence against infection. There are also non-infectious causes of fever. These include the temperature related condition hyperthermia and dangerous rises in body temperature. This may be due to a heat injury, such as heat stroke, or the side effects of some medications.
NHS Direct: High temperature (fever)
NHS Choices: Treating a high temperature in children.
American Academy of Pediatrics: “Fever.”
KidsHealth.org: “Fever and Taking Your Child's Temperature.”
National Cancer Institute: “Fever.”
Cunha, B.A. Infectious Disease Clinics of North American, December 2007; vol 21: 867-915.
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