Antipyretics (literally "against the fire") are drugs that reduce fever. They will not normally lower body temperature if one does not have a fever. Antipyretics cause the hypothalamus to override an interleukin-induced increase in temperature. The body will then work to lower the temperature and the result is a reduction in fever.
Most antipyretic medications have other purposes. The most common antipyretics in the United States are ibuprofen and aspirin, which are used primarily as pain relievers. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, and pain relievers. There is some debate over the appropriate use of such medications, as fever is part of the body's immune response to infection.
The effectiveness of acetaminophen (paracetamol) alone as an antipyretic in children is uncertain with some evidence showing it is no better than physical methods. Therapies involving the combination of acetaminophen and aspirin, or alternating doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen have shown somewhat greater antipyretic effect than acetaminophen alone.
Bathing or sponging with lukewarm or cool water can effectively reduce body temperature in those with heat illness but not usually fever.
Many medications have antipyretic effects and thus are useful for fever but not heat illness, including:
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