Antibiotics and fever

It is unfortunate that many people today, sometimes on their own initiative (that is, without medical advice), start taking antibiotics for an elevated temperature or fever. This is incorrect and even dangerous in several ways:

  • Antibiotics are not antipyretics (they are not fever-reducers)!
  • Antibiotics are not effective against viruses, and the most common cause of an elevated temperature or fever is a viral infection. In such a case, undue administration of antibiotics may actually worsen the course of a viral infection (166).
  • Most of the diseases that underlie short-term febrile conditions in everyday life, even if they are caused by bacteria, do not require antibiotic treatment.
  • Determining the need for an antibiotic, as well as selecting the appropriate antibiotic (which includes determining proper dosage and duration of treatment) is the task of a doctor.
  • Studies have shown that antibiotics are more effective when a patient is allowed to remain febrile (8 -11, 18).
  • Antibiotics have a number of side effects, and weighing the risks and benefits is also fundamentally the task of a doctor (146).
  • Be sure to consult a doctor if you experience side effects such as allergy, diarrhoea, rash, etc. When taking antibiotics, these side effects occur in nearly 10% of treated children.

It should be emphasized that one of the biggest problems with antibiotic treatment today is the increasing resistance of pathogens (bacteria): this is called antibiotic resistance. Unnecessary antibiotic “treatment”, especially with given with inadequate duration or dosage (169), increases the development of bacterial resistance, and is therefore harmful and dangerous - not just for the individual patient but for all of us.

Only take antibiotics on the advice of a doctor!


You can find the corresponding numbered references here: References

Version update: 1 March 2024