My wife who is in hospital was given Paracetamol when the nurse noticed her temperature was above normal. Medical professionals have often recommended to my family members that Paracetamol be taken to treat light fevers.

Paracetamol is typically used to pain, so it is surprising that it has an effect on the physiology that causes fevers. I guess it could be useful in reducing the pain in headaches often associated with fevers, but I am skeptical about its affect on the fever itself. Does Paracetamol have any benefit in reducing the severity of fevers?

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    It's not just Paracetamol; a number of other pain relievers are known to reduce fever. Many are anti-inflammatory, too.
    – Dan Getz
    Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 3:39
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    What I'd be skeptical of here is the idea that one should be "treating" a light fever. Why reduce the temperature if it's not high enough to be a problem? What medical professionals generally tell me is that fevers are beneficial, unless they get too high—that one should treat the discomfort, not the temperature itself.
    – Dan Getz
    Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 3:47
  • @DanGetz: Basically all non selective cox blockers do all that, the main difference is their availability in different sections of the body.
    – PlasmaHH
    Commented Jan 26, 2016 at 13:54
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    In my part of the world Paracetamol is known primarily for reducing fever. Not many people realise it's a pain-reliever.
    – slebetman
    Commented Jan 27, 2016 at 9:46
  • In my part of the world, [Tylenol] is widely known as BOTH a fever reducer and an analgesic. Commented Nov 16, 2018 at 16:30

1 Answer 1


The paper "Aspirin compared with acetaminophen in the treatment of fever and other symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection in adults", published by the NIH, tested the efficacy of Aspirin, Acetaminophen (Paracetamol), and a Placebo for fever reduction.

(In the USA, Paracetamol is commonly known as Acetaminophen.)

They tested 392 patients at two different dosing levels for aspirin and acetaminophen (78 in both aspirin groups, 79 in both acetaminophen groups, 78 in the placebo group).

Resulting mean maximum temperature reductions and the Area Under the Curve (AUC) for four hours after dosing were:

 500 mg Aspirin:       1.32 °C, 3.18 AUC
1000 mg Aspirin:       1.25 °C, 4.26 AUC
 500 mg Acetaminophen: 1.67 °C, 3.13 AUC
1000 mg Acetaminophen: 1.71 °C, 4.11 AUC
Placebo:               0.63 °C, 0.76 AUC

Note that this study included only adults, the efficacy of paracetamol by itself in children with fevers has been questioned

This "Ask the Professor" article in the Tufts Journal suggests the mechanism by which Acetaminophen and similar drugs reduce fever:

By blocking COX and, therefore, the subsequent production of prostaglandins in the central and peripheral nervous systems, non-opioid analgesics reduce both fever and inflammation.

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    @OddThinking - it would be helpful if you could resist making edits immediately after an answer has been posted to prevent changing the post out from under the original author who might have additional edits to make.
    – Johnny
    Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 4:11
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    You might like to try drafting the answering in a text editor until you are happy with it, and then posting the final product rather than having people have to judge whether you might be finished or not.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 6:06
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    Do you know of a text editor that understands StackExchanges text markup? It's hard to fully proofread an answer until it's been posted. If you're going to use your moderator's power to edit posts to make minor formatting changes, just give the original author time to proofread and edit his post first. Moving this to Meta
    – Johnny
    Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 6:10
  • Very useful answer with good references. This answer explains that Paracetamol (or Acetaminophen) actually affects the fever cause and not just the pain associated with joint inflammation and headaches +1. Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 11:02

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