Antipyretic drugs in patients with fever and infection: literature review

Br J Nurs. 2019 May 23;28(10):610-618. doi: 10.12968/bjon.2019.28.10.610.


Background: antipyretic drugs are routinely administered to febrile patients with infection in secondary care. However, the use of antipyretics to suppress fever during infection remains a controversial topic within the literature. It is argued that fever suppression may interfere with the body's natural defence mechanisms, and may worsen patient outcomes.

Method: a literature review was undertaken to determine whether the administration of antipyretic drugs to adult patients with infection and fever, in secondary care, improves or worsens patient outcomes.

Results: contrasting results were reported; two studies demonstrated improved patient outcomes following antipyretic administration, while several studies demonstrated increased mortality risk associated with antipyretics and/or demonstrated fever's benefits during infection. Results also demonstrated that health professionals continue to view fever as deleterious.

Conclusion: the evidence does not currently support routine antipyretic administration. Considering patients' comorbidities and symptoms of their underlying illness will promote safe, evidence-based and appropriate administration of antipyretics.

Keywords: Adults; Antipyretics; Fever; Ibuprofen; Infection; Paracetamol.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antipyretics / therapeutic use*
  • Fever / complications
  • Fever / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Infections / complications
  • Infections / drug therapy*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antipyretics