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Coated 200 m g tablets of ibuprofen, a common antipyretic

Antipyretics are substances that reduce fever. Antipyretics cause the hypothalamus to override a prostaglandin-induced increase in temperature. The body then works to lower the temperature, which results in a reduction in fever.

Most antipyretic medications have other purposes. The most common antipyretics in the United States are ibuprofen and aspirin, which are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) used primarily as analgesics (pain relievers), but which also have antipyretic properties; and acetaminophen (paracetamol), an analgesic with weak anti-inflammatory properties.[1]

There is some debate over the appropriate use of such medications, as fever is part of the body's immune response to infection.[2][3] A study published by the Royal Society claims fever suppression causes at least 1% or more influenza cases of death in the United States, which results in at least 700 extra deaths per year.[4]

Non-pharmacological treatment

Bathing or sponging with lukewarm or cool water can effectively reduce body temperature in those with heat illness, but not usually in those with fever.[5] The use of alcohol baths is not an appropriate cooling method, because there have been reported adverse events associated with systemic absorption of alcohol.[6]


Many medications have antipyretic effects and thus are useful for fever but not in treating illness, including:


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notes that improper dosing is one of the biggest problems in giving acetaminophen (paracetamol) to children.[7] The effectiveness of acetaminophen alone as an antipyretic in children is uncertain, with some evidence showing it is no better than physical methods.[8] Therapies involving alternating doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen have shown greater antipyretic effect than either drug alone.[9] One meta-analysis indicated that ibuprofen is more effective than acetaminophen in children at similar doses when both are given alone.[10]

Due to concerns about Reye syndrome, it is recommend that aspirin and combination products containing aspirin not be given to children or teenagers during episodes of fever-causing illnesses.[11][12]


Traditional use of higher plants with antipyretic properties is a common worldwide feature of many ethnobotanical cultural systems. In ethnobotany, plants with naturally occurring antipyretic properties are commonly referred to as febrifuge.[13][14]

Popular culture

Antipyretic was the word spelled by Joanne Lagatta to win the 1991 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

On the second disc for the Final Fantasy Tactics soundtrack, there is a track titled Antipyretic.


  1. ^ "Acetaminophen," National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine. Modified 2016-08-07, Accessed 2016-08-16.
  2. ^ "Mayo Clinic".
  3. ^ "Medline Plus".
  4. ^ Kupferschmidt, Kai (2014-01-21). "Fight the Flu, Hurt Society?". ScienceNow.
  5. ^ "UpToDate Inc".
  6. ^ Sullivan, J. E.; Committee On, H. C.; Sullivan, J. E.; Farrar, H. C. (2011). "Fever and Antipyretic Use in Children". Pediatrics. 127 (3): 580-587. doi:10.1542/peds.2010-3852. PMID 21357332.
  7. ^ Reducing Fever in Children: Safe Use of Acetaminophen
  8. ^ Meremikwu M, Oyo-Ita A (2002). Meremikwu MM (ed.). "Paracetamol for treating fever in children". Cochrane Database Syst Rev (2): CD003676. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD003676. PMC 6532671. PMID 12076499. Trial evidence that paracetamol has a superior antipyretic effect than placebo is inconclusive.
  9. ^ E. Michael Sarrell, MD; Eliahu Wielunsky, MD; Herman Avner Cohen, MD (2006). "Antipyretic treatment in young children with fever: acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or both alternating in a randomized, double-blind study". Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. 160 (2): 197-202. doi:10.1001/archpedi.160.2.197. PMID 16461878. Retrieved .
  10. ^ Kauffman, Ralph; Sawyer, L.A.; Scheinbaum, M.L. (1992). "Antipyretic Efficacy of Ibuprofen vs Acetaminophen". Am J Dis Child. 146 (5): 622-625. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1992.02160170102024.
  11. ^ CDC Study Shows Sharp Decline in Reye's Syndrome among U.S. Children Archived November 15, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Reye's syndrome - Prevention
  13. ^ Schultes, R.E.; Raffauf, R.F. De Plantis Toxicariis e Mundo Novo Tropicale Commentationes. XXXIX. Febrifuges of northwest Amazonia. Harvard Papers in Botany Vol. 5, pp. 52-68. 1994.
  14. ^ Biren N. Shah and Avinash K. Seth Medicinal Plants as a Source of Anti-Pyretic Agents - A Review

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