Feeling Feverish? Here's What Works Best to Treat It, According to Doctors

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If you have a fever, there's a handful of viable options that can help you find relief fast — but is one fever-reducer better than the other? According to doctors we spoke with, it depends.

"Both Tylenol and NSAIDs like Motrin and Advil can be used to reduce fevers, and the medical literature does not strongly support one over the other in terms of efficacy," said Erica Patel, MD, at the University of Southern California. "There is also conflicting data about whether or not alternating between the two medications is more effective than using either one alone."

When it comes down to it, it really depends on the person. "Generally I recommend one depending on the patient's symptoms overall and general health," said Dr. Patel. Here are some suggestions:

  • NSAIDs: Does your fever come with a nice side of inflammation? Reach for ibuprofen. "If a febrile child has a lot of inflammation in his or her throat, making it difficult to swallow from the pain, I usually recommend NSAIDs because they're an anti-inflammatory medication," said Dr. Patel.
  • Acetaminophen: Do you have kidney or heart issues? Skip the NSAIDs for now, and consult your doctor. "For people with a history of heart or kidney disease, I recommend Tylenol if they have a fever because NSAIDs can actually cause more damage to their affected organs."
  • Natural remedies: Looking for a more holistic approach? "Tanacetum parthenium (known as feverfew) is a medicinal plant that I've recommended for the treatment of fevers and generalized aches," said Habib Sadeghi, DO, author of The Clarity Cleanse. That said, you should see your doctor to figure out why you have a fever, and to learn whether a natural remedy is safe for you. "I always recommend a clinical evaluation to determine the root cause of the problem," he said.