Paracetamol and fever management

J R Soc Promot Health. 2008 Nov;128(6):320-3. doi: 10.1177/1466424008092794.


Paracetamol is one of the most commonly used legal drugs in the western world. Its availability is good, cost is low, and its uses include 'over-the-counter' (OTC) distribution, primary care prescribed therapy, secondary care 'post-operative' application and emergency treatment. Stated benefits of paracetamol include: the drug's analgesic effects, preference to aspirin in avoidance of Reye's syndrome, good patient tolerance, and iatrogenic complications are infrequent and minor. Stated cautions include hepatotoxic effect following minor doses and short duration use and users may incur compromised immune integrity. This paper is concerned with paracetamol's role in fever management. Public concern regarding, in particular, childhood fever and febrile convulsions is largely unwarranted. Despite paracetamol's reputation as a popular fever-reducing agent the drug is poorly effective in the control of febrility and febrile convulsions showing no important advantage compared with placebo. Paracetamol is probably grossly over-prescribed for fever management and its value more perceived than real. Greater efforts are needed to inform patients of the natural benefits of the biological strategy of fever and of the highly limited and in some cases contraindicated use of paracetamol in fever management.

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / therapeutic use*
  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic / therapeutic use*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Fever / drug therapy*
  • Fever / psychology
  • Humans
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Seizures, Febrile / drug therapy
  • Seizures, Febrile / prevention & control
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic
  • Acetaminophen