What are antipyretics?
Antipyretics, also referred to as fever reducers, are medications that reduce the body's temperature by overriding the body's immune response in the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus acts much like a thermostat for the body, which can respond quickly to the presence of foreign or dangerous organisms in the blood. Fevers are caused by the presence of "pyrogens," fever-inducing agents that are produced by bacteria, molds, viruses and yeasts. When pyrogens are present in the blood, the hypothalamus will increase the body's temperature resulting in a fever.
What are the most common antipyretics?
The most common antipyretics used throughout the United States were manufactured as over-the-counter pain relievers, but contain chemical compounds that feature antipyretic properties. These medications include:
- Salicylates: Aspirin is the most common antipyretic with the active ingredient acetylsalicylic acid. Other active ingredients to look for include choline salicylate (Arthopan), sodium salicylate (Scot-Tussin Original) and magnesium salicylate (Arthriten).
- Acetaminophen: This mild opioid is the primary ingredient in Tylenol and acts as a pain reliever and fever reducer.
- Non-Steroid Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): NSAIDs are drugs that manage mild to moderate pain involving the musculoskeletal system. In addition to pain relief, these drugs have anti-inflammatory and fever-reducing properties. The most common over-the-counter (OTC) drugs include aspirin, ibuprofen, ketoprofen and naproxen, while more advanced NSAIDs can also be found in prescription form.
Should fevers always be treated?
The conventional wisdom in regards to fevers has changed somewhat over the past several decades, as some medical experts now see fevers as a normal immune system response as a result of infections and other illnesses. While fevers that exceed 103 degrees Fahrenheit should be managed with some type of antipyretic, the body's response is valuable in treating infections. First, fevers spark the production of white blood cells and antibodies that protect against harmful microorganisms, and the higher temperatures make it harder for these microbes to survive and spread throughout the body. Unless it reaches severe temperature levels, treating the underlying cause of the fever rather than the fever itself is advisable to speed recovery times.
Why do antipyretics require a prescription for reimbursement?
As a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), since January 1, 2011, new standards were put into place regarding the reimbursement of medical expenses. To reimburse the cost of OTC medicines and drugs under FSAs, HSAs and other consumer spending accounts, account holders must submit a prescription from a physician for each product.
Over-the-counter (OTC) antipyretics now require a prescription from a doctor to be purchased through an FSA, HSA or HRA. For more information on a specific product, please consult our Eligibility List.