Fever is a symptom of a health condition, usually an infection. It is associated with discomfort, and people feel better once the fever is gone. According to many experts, fever is the body’s natural defense against infection and one has a fever when the body temperature increases above the normal. A person’s normal temperature can be a little higher or lower than the average 37 C temperature.
A child has a fever if the body temperature is or at 37.2 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) in the armpit, 37.5 degrees Celsius (99.5 degrees Fahrenheit) orally, or 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit) rectally. An adult usually has a fever when the body temperature reaches or exceeds 37.8 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit).
What is Low-Grade Fever
Low-grade fever is a mild increase of the body temperature above normal that does not exceed 38.5 degree centigrade. The temperature may vary according to the site of measurement. The temperature of the body can also increase due to heavy clothing, physical activities or hot temperature.
When there are no other signs or symptoms involved, low-grade fevers can be treated by getting enough rest and drinking plenty of water. Taking medicine like ibuprofen, acetaminophen or aspirin can lower the body temperature, but not recommended for children or infants. Persistent fever may require medical attention, especially if accompanied by other symptoms such as cough and sore throat.
Low-grade fever may follow after vaccination, during teething, a sign of inflammatory or autoimmune conditions, side effect of certain medications, or it can be a symptom of severe health condition. If the fever is accompanied by serious symptoms, such as inconsolability, irritability, confusion, breathing problems, severe pain, increased of heart rate, seek medical help right away.
Symptoms of Low-Grade Fever
The symptoms of low-grade fever vary according to the disease or health condition. There are some conditions that can affect the body’s temperature. These are the infection symptoms that you may experience with low-grade fever:
- Burning sensation when urinating
- Abdominal pain or cramps
- Nausea with vomiting, sometimes without
- Muscle ache, joint pain
- Headache or earache
- Rashes or redness of the skin
- Sore throat or shortness of breath
Other symptoms include decreased in appetite, feeling hot, swollen lymph nodes, and decreased range of motion of the joints, bruises and ear pulling.
Symptoms That May Indicate Life-Threatening Condition
There are some cases that low-grade fever may be a symptom of a severe condition and should be diagnosed immediately by an expert. If you are experiencing these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately:
- Rapid heart rate
- Respiratory or breathing problems, such as wheezing, shortness of breath
- Severe pain
- Vomiting blood or blood in stool
- Chest pain, tightness or palpitation
- Confusion, hallucinations, delusion
Causes of Low-Grade Fever
These are the most common causes of low-grade fever.
1. Bacterial Infection
Infectious bacteria can make you ill as they produce toxins that damage the tissue. Some examples of bacteria that can lead to infection are E. coli, Streptococcus, and Staphylococcus and the usual treatment for bacterial infection is taking antibiotics. Examples of bacterial infection are:
- Strep throat – a bacterial infection that causes pain or inflammation in the throat. This condition, which is caused by group A streptococcus bacteria, can affect not only children but also adults. The symptoms may include coughing and sneezing.
- Scarlet fever – this is also another kind of infection. People who have strep throat can develop scarlet fever. The symptoms of this condition are scarlet-colored rashes, fever and sore throat.
2. Viral Infection
A viral infection is an illness or diseases caused by a virus. This occurs when a virus penetrates the body through eating contaminated food, breathing contaminated air, having sexual contact with someone with virus, or an insect bite. There are vaccines available to prevent these infections, such as shingles, chickenpox, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, HPV, influenza, mumps and measles.
The common symptoms of viral infection include:
- Fever, chills, flu-like symptoms
- Fatigue, head ache, nausea, vomiting
- Rash, sore throat, ear pain
- Body pain, abdominal pain, stiff neck
- Weight loss
- For infants, some signs of viral infection are excessing crying, hard to feed, excessive sleepiness, and a bulge spot on top of the head
If you have symptoms of viral infection, seek professional medical advice before taking any treatments. There are other types of viral infection, such as HPV, that require more medical attention as it can lead to severe health condition.
3. Lung Infections
The symptoms of lung infection include fever, shortness of breath, chronic cough, chest pain and changes in mucus.
- Bronchitis – an inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes. Patients with bronchitis cough up thick mucus. This condition may develop from a respiratory infection or cold. Signs and symptoms of acute or chronic bronchitis include cough, mucus, shortness of breath, chest discomfort, fever and chills, and fatigue.
- Tuberculosis – is a serious disease caused by bacteria, which can be spread from one person to another. Signs and symptoms of tuberculosis include fever, chills, loss of appetite, coughing up blood, chest pain, cough that lasts for three weeks, weight loss and night sweats. This condition can affect other parts of the body and medical attention is needed as soon as possible.
- Pneumonia – is an infection that causes air sacs inflammation in the lungs. The air sacs may fill with purulent material or fluid that results to cough with phlegm, fever, chills. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, confusion, lower body temperature for elders, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Bacteria, fungi or viruses can cause pneumonia. See a doctor immediately if you are experiencing chest pain, persistent cough and fever, and difficulty breathing.
4. Ear Infection
An ear infection is one of the most common viral or bacterial infections, which affects the middle ear. Children and adults with ear infection may experience ear pain when lying down, fever, headache, loss of appetite, hearing and sleeping problems, irritation and ear drainage. If you are experiencing ear discharge, see your doctor immediately. For children, observe your child’s ear and visit the doctor if the symptoms last for more than one day, if there is fluid discharge, severe ear pain and irritation.
Gastroenteritis is the inflammation and irritation of the intestines and stomach which is usually caused by bacterial or viral infection. The most common symptoms of this condition include diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, fever, nausea, headache and cramping. Due to vomiting and diarrhea, this condition can also lead to dehydration. You may experience dizziness, extreme thirst, dry mouth and skin.
There are many ways to acquire gastroenteritis, such as consuming contaminated food or water, contact with a person who has virus or not washing hands after using the bathroom. If you or someone experiences the signs of dehydration, or may have food poisoning, seek medical help immediately.
6. Urinary Tract Infection
Urinary tract infection is an infection in an area of the urinary system, such as ureters, kidneys, bladder and urethra. Women have higher risk of developing UTI than men. Serious cases of UTI can spread to the kidneys. Some signs and symptoms of UTI include:
- Persistent need to urinate, but small amounts
- Burning sensation when urinating
- Cloudy urine
- Foul or strong-smelling urine
- Pelvic pain for women
- Red or bright pink urine
If you have signs and symptoms of UTI, contact your doctor immediately. Your doctor may recommend antibiotics. If there is no improvement after taking the medications, be sure to visit your doctor again.
Sinusitis is the swelling or inflammation of the sinuses. When blocked or filled with mucus or fluid, germs can grow and result to sinus infection. The most common causes of sinusitis include cold, allergic rhinitis, nasal polyps or the small growths in the lining of the nose, deviated septum and low immune system.
For simple sinusitis, your doctor may recommend saline nasal washes and decongestant. Just make sure not to use over-the-counter decongestant for more than three days as it can make your condition worse. Moist and warm air can help alleviate the symptoms of chronic sinusitis. Inhaling steam from warm water and vaporizer are also helpful to improve your breathing.
8. Dengue Fever
Dengue is a serious public threat in tropical or warm areas of the world. Complications of this disease can lead to more serious problem or death. Mosquitoes carry a dengue virus when they bite a person who carries the virus. The virus enters the blood stream and spreads throughout the body. The symptoms of this condition include
- Sudden fever
- Nausea, headache
- Joint and bone pain.
- Mild bleeding (bleeding gums, nose bleed)
If you think you develop symptoms of dengue, see your doctor immediately. There is no vaccine to stop dengue fever. The only way to prevent this disease is by preventing the bites of mosquitoes, especially if you are living in warm or tropical countries.
Depending on one’s health condition, low-grade fever can be a sign of cancer, pancreatitis, meningitis, encephalitis, hepatitis, heat stroke, brain damage, physical disability, sepsis, scarring of the liver, anemia, peritonitis or abdominal infection and bone infection.