Synonyms in a broader sense
Fever is an elevated body temperature that deviates from normal values, which are usually signs of infection, inflammation or other immunological reactions of the body.
Fever is defined as an increase in body temperature above 38°C. In most cases, fever occurs as an accompanying symptom of inflammatory processes, infections or injuries. The body tries to combat externally invading disease-causing germs, such as viruses, fungi or even bacteria.
In doing so, the body’s own defence system is activated and specific substances that increase the body temperature are produced. In addition to a general feeling of illness with headaches, tiredness or sensitivity to light, fever can also be accompanied by other symptoms depending on the respective stage and temperature. These include increased sweating, pale skin, increased breathing, palpitations, nausea and an increased feeling of thirst. Inner restlessness and a newly occurring confusion can also be concomitant symptoms of high fever.
Fever in itself is not an illness, but rather a symptom that can result from various clinical pictures. Similar to back pain, headaches and abdominal pain, fever is a very common reason for consulting a doctor. The probability of fever declines gradually with age. While newborns usually do not have a fever, infants, children and adolescents are relatively often affected by diseases accompanied by a fever. In adulthood, only relatively severe infections usually lead to fever.
By which signs do I recognize that I get a fever?
Before a fever develops, most people suffer from typical symptoms such as fatigue, deterioration in general condition, headaches and aching limbs. However, these symptoms do not determine whether a fever occurs at all or how high it will be. Those affected can feel very weak and ill even without a fever.
However, the level of the fever can influence the severity of the symptoms, so that a person with a high fever also feels more ill. Other symptoms that typically announce fever include outbreaks of sweating, severe thirst, chills, dry and hot skin, glassy eyes, loss of appetite, increased breathing rate, restlessness and clouding of consciousness. After infection or triggering event, within a few days (incubation period) there is general malaise, fatigue, loss of performance but also rhinitis, cough and headaches. Either in parallel with this or shortly thereafter usually begins the so-called chills.
Despite the warm ambient temperature, this is understood to be a subjectively perceived freezing and shivering, accompanied by trembling. The tremor causes the muscles of the body to move in quick succession. These rapid movements cause the heat necessary for the fever.
Mostly, the described shivering only occurs in the initial phase. Once the body is heated up, the body energy is sufficient to maintain the temperature. With fever the general condition usually worsens and the initial symptoms become stronger.
High fever can lead to severe to very severe headaches with nausea and vomiting. Patients with very high fever sometimes start to fantasize and are no longer adequately responsive. The fever is often accompanied by heavy sweating, by which the body tries to regulate the derailed temperature.
Most patients with high fever find it difficult to get up, which results in an epochal bedriddenness. Pain in the limbs is a typical harbinger of a cold. The fever usually occurs a few hours to days after the aching limbs.
In addition, other cold symptoms such as headaches, sore throats, rhinitis and many more usually occur. If the aching limbs and the fever are not connected with an infection, however, an autoimmune disease such as polymyalgia rheumatica can also be a possible cause. This specific example involves inflammation of medium-sized and large vessels, with the pain being felt mainly in both shoulders.
It is important to recognize the disease, as treatment with cortisone is necessary. Fever and abdominal pain can have an infectious background on the one hand.This is often caused by viruses, more rarely by bacteria. On the other hand, appendicitis can also cause abdominal pain and fever.
Typically, the abdominal pain begins diffusely around the navel and then migrates over time to the right lower abdomen. Another possible cause is the so-called Familial Mediterranean Fever. This is an inherited febrile disease that triggers fever attacks and is typically accompanied by abdominal pain.
The fever attacks usually begin before the age of 20. Familial Mediterranean fever is often confused with appendicitis because of the similarity of symptoms. and Familial Mediterranean fever usually shows that the immune system is working.
Sore throat is a typical symptom of a viral or bacterial infection, which is also often accompanied by fever. Patients should become aware of the fact that they are taking drugs that suppress the immune system (so-called cytostatic or immunosuppressive drugs). If sore throat and fever then occur, a blood cell check is necessary and possibly an inpatient treatment is inevitable.
Back pain can also occur in connection with a cold. If there are no other cold symptoms and the back pain and fever persist for a longer period of time or recur repeatedly, other diseases should be considered. On the one hand, Bekhterev’s disease is a possible cause.
This is a chronic, inflammatory disease of the spine, which can lead to a stiffening of the spine. Bekhterev’s disease can be accompanied by fever and back pain, especially if it occurs late or for the first time. Furthermore, prostate cancer can be ruled out in men over 70 years of age with fever in connection with weight loss and/or night sweats and back pain.
The combination of fever and headaches is a typical symptom constellation in colds. In addition, other symptoms such as sore throat, colds, coughing or diarrhoea usually occur. However, headaches can also be a warning signal due to a cold.
If the headaches become very severe, the fever rises and if there is a stiffness in the neck, meningitis should be considered. In addition, clouding of consciousness, sensitivity to noise and light, nausea, vomiting or even seizures may occur. If meningitis is suspected, it is essential to clarify this, as the inflammation can spread to the brain and lead to severe consequential damage and even death.
Meningitis can be caused by bacteria or viruses. If it is a bacterial infection, it must be treated with antibiotics as soon as possible. If a fever associated with diarrhoea occurs, an infectious cause must be assumed.
Infectious diarrhoea can be caused by viruses, bacteria and, rarely, parasites. In addition, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and chills are also common. The diarrhoea is mushy to watery and occurs several times a day.
In addition, severe abdominal cramps can occur. Above all, however, caution is required if the diarrhoea lasts for several days and fluid intake is restricted by additional nausea. If there is blood and/or mucus in the stool, a doctor must be consulted.
If the diarrhea occurs after a trip abroad, a doctor should also be consulted. For example, a possible malaria infection should always be considered after subtropical and tropical travel. After 7 to 42 days after infection, there are fever attacks, which can be accompanied by diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea and abdominal pain.
Since there may be a long period of time between the infection and the appearance of the first symptoms, those affected should consider traveling abroad, even if it is more than a month ago. Fever and rashes often occur in the so-called childhood diseases. These include measles, rubella, ringworm, scarlet fever and three-day fever (erythema subitum).
Apart from scarlet fever caused by bacteria, these diseases are caused by various viruses. All diseases are accompanied by a typical skin rash and fever. Usually the fever is observed before the rash, but it can also flare up again with the rash.
In addition, other cold symptoms such as rhinitis, cough, sore throat and fatigue can occur.Measles appears, for example, with a deep red, blotchy, knotty rash that begins on the face and behind the ears and then spreads over the body. Rubella is similar to measles in terms of its spread, but tends to be bright red and small-spotted. Scarlet shows pale red first, spreads over the body and then becomes scarlet.
The region around the mouth is left out, which is also called perioral paleness. The ringlets initially show with a rash limited to the cheeks (slap exanthema). The rash then spreads reticularly to the arms and trunk.
Three-day fever, on the other hand, presents itself as a pale red, finely spotted exanthema on the trunk or also in the neck, which in some cases is present only for a few hours, but subsides after three days at the latest. Except for scarlet fever, which is treated with antibiotics, the diseases are treated purely symptomatically. If fever occurs without further symptoms and without a possible cause for the fever being found, it is also called fever of unknown origin.
Normally, fever occurs when the immune system is working harder. Therefore, this can also occur in very stressful phases of life and does not necessarily have to be based on a malignant cause. However, if the fever occurs over a longer period of time and repeatedly, a medical clarification is absolutely necessary.
Even if there are no symptoms, viral or bacterial infections must always be considered as triggers. In addition, the presence of an autoimmune disease or even malignant tumor diseases must be excluded. Especially if unintentional and severe weight loss and night sweats are added, a search for cancer should be performed.
Furthermore, the HIV status should be checked in any case. In some cases no trigger for the fever can be found. If the fever persists for more than six months or recurs from time to time without symptoms having appeared during this period or a cause having been found – despite regular check-ups – the prognosis is generally considered good.